ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs’ Brandon Pfaadt returns to rotation after adjustments in Reno

Jun 28, 2023, 6:21 PM

Brandon Pfaadt...

Starting pitcher Brandon Pfaadt #32 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a warm-up pitch during the first inning of the MLB game against the Miami Marlins at Chase Field on May 09, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Marlins defeated the Diamondbacks 6-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Brandon Pfaadt was back at Chase Field on Wednesday, as the Arizona Diamondbacks will lean on their top pitching prospect to fill in with Merrill Kelly on the 15-day injured list (blood clot).

Pfaadt was placed on the taxi squad Wednesday to start Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

This is Pfaadt’s second call up this season, as the D-backs optioned him on May 27 after his first five starts in the big leagues resulted in an 8.37 ERA in 23.3 innings.

Pfaadt went down with some advice and instruction from the organization, and he was stellar in his most recent three starts for Triple-A Reno with 29 strikeouts to one walk and five earned runs in 18.2 innings.

“I was just as excited,” Pfaadt said of getting called up up compared to the first time. “I was ready to get back here from Day 1 that I got optioned.”

Pfaadt got barreled up in his first go around with Arizona, surrendering a 49.4% hard hit rate and eight home runs. His fastball was especially knocked around with .644 slugging against the pitch.

He felt hitters were getting too comfortable since he was not hitting the inside corner with his fastball, so that was a focus in Reno.

“It helped me get deep into games and get better results. … Now I feel more comfortable getting in there and that opens up the slider,” Pfaadt said.

Manager Torey Lovullo said the organization was pleased with Pfaadt’s progress in the minors, noting that while this move was needed due to injury, the rookie earned the chance to get back.

He expects a better product this time because of Pfaadt’s experience and understanding of what pitching in the majors looks like.

“It’s easy to get distracted once you get here and you try to do too much,” Lovullo said. “It’s all about execution, that is the most important thing for me and I think we’ll see a better version because the experiences he had here the first time.

“He felt comfortable, he probably just lacked execution and maybe tried a little bit too hard to make a perfect pitch.”

Pitching coach Brent Strom explained to reporters after Pfaadt’s option that he told the rookie to go look at the careers of Tom Glavine and other Hall of Famers.

The message was not every great pitcher starts their career dominating, and Pfaadt took that to heart.

“Just knowing that there’s a long journey ahead and there’s little bumps in the road kind of helped me get over that, especially coming from Strommy,” Pfaadt said. “I feel like we’re in a really good spot.”

Pfaadt is 24 years old and was a 2020 fifth-round draft pick.

The 6-foot-4 righty dominated in Triple-A last year with a 2.63 ERA and 74 punch outs in 61.2 innings, leading to his first major league camp in spring.

He is Arizona’s No. 3 ranked prospect.

Pfaadt’s start moves back Tommy Henry to the Angels series, which starts Friday. Lovullo said this was based on matchups and wanting a righty to face Tampa Bay.

The D-backs have not announced a corresponding roster move, which will be made ahead of Thursday’s game.

Tune in as Arizona faces Tampa Bay on Wednesday night at 6:40 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.

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