PHOENIX — Due to pocket $12 million this season, Trevor Cahill is the Arizona Diamondbacks’ highest paid pitcher and among the most well-paid in Sedona Red.
With that large of an investment in a single player, it’s no wonder the D-backs are doing all they can, leaving no stone unturned in an effort to get their 27-year-old right-hander right again.
Hence the new delivery.
Nothing too dramatic, but just enough of a tweak — bringing his arm more over his head than before — to where both team and player believe the relationship can continue.
“His mechanics, they worked on really hard this winter. We’ve noticed the ball coming out of his hand much better,” first-year manager Chip Hale said. “His bullpens have been good, his BPs have been good, it’s just a matter of now seeing it translate to the game.”
Well, for his first Cactus League appearance, the elevated arm angle produced positive results in a game against the Rockies at Salt River Fields on Wednesday.
Cahill pitched two scoreless innings, giving up a pair of hits plus one walk.
In the first, he erased Charlie Culberson’s one-out single with a double-play ball to end the inning. And then in the second, he stranded two runners, retiring Rafael Ynoa via a line drive to second to close the inning, one that was highlighted by Yasmany Tomas’ first two fielding plays at third base.
“It’s just different,” said Cahill, who has been working with the new arm slot since mid-January. “Like today is the first time I took it out in an actual game. You kind of so want to go back to what you’re used to, but at the same time you got to stick with it.”
Cahill threw 17 of his 33 pitches for strikes, getting ahead in the count 0-1 to seven of the eight batters he faced.
“I can definitely tell there’s some stuff, just where I set my sights on some pitches just got to change a little bit because the ball doesn’t run as much,” he said, adding the delivery became more difficult to duplicate in the second inning when he began to tire.
Cahill and the D-backs have been together since 2012 after he was acquired from the Oakland A’s along with reliever Craig Breslow and cash for pitchers Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook and outfielder Collin Cowgill.
In that first year, Cahill went 13-12 with a 3.38 ERA in 32 starts.
It’s been downhill ever since.
Cahill has failed to deliver similar type numbers, seeing his wins and innings pitched decrease and his ERA increase in the two seasons since. He went from eight wins and a 3.99 ERA in 2013 to three wins and a 5.61 ERA in 2014.
Last June, Cahill hit rock bottom, being designated for assignment. He cleared waivers and accepted a stint in the minor leagues, where he remained until he was recalled in July.
Upon his return, Cahill enjoyed a stretch of five straight quality starts before going winless in his final six starts, posting a 0-4 record with an 8.89 ERA.
The D-backs hold a $13 million option with a $300,000 buyout on Cahill for 2016, meaning 2015 may be his last opportunity should he not turn things around.
“If we see what we’ve seen in the bullpen, he’ll be one of our five (starters), there’s no doubt,” Hale said. “He’s here. He’s had success in the past in the major leagues. We’re excited about what we’re seeing so far.”