ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Who stays and who goes for Diamondbacks rotation, Ryne Nelson or Tommy Henry?

Apr 14, 2024, 6:30 AM

Ryne Nelson...

Manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks relieves Ryne Nelson #19 in the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers during Game Four of the World Series at Chase Field on October 31, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Jordan Montgomery made his second tune-up start Saturday for Triple-A Reno as the 31-year-old is expected to join the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation later this month.

This situation begs the question, who will be switched out of the rotation for Montgomery?

“I’m not going to necessarily look at projections or what it can turn into or what we might get out of whoever it is,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I think early on, we were staggering as a starting pitching rotation. But they figured it out.”

Zac Gallen or Merrill Kelly? Don’t even think about it. Despite his inflated 6.48 ERA, Brandon Pfaadt doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

That leaves Tommy Henry and Ryne Nelson.

“I’ve had ongoing conversations with those guys. The topic changes every once in a while, depending on what’s happening,” Lovullo said. “You guys got the baseball and anything can happen between now and the time when we have two starters that are coming back”

Henry has filled in the No. 3 rotation spot for an injured Eduardo Rodriguez, who recently saw a setback in progression from a lat injury he suffered on March 19.

Henry and Nelson were placed into a battle for the No. 5 spot before the regular season started, but because of Rodriguez’s injury, both were able to start the season in the rotation.

Both players have statistics that don’t tell the full story of their seasons thus far.

Nelson is slotted as the fifth starter in the rotation. The 26-year-old has struggled this season for the Diamondbacks, but not as badly as the stats portray.

He holds a 5.27 ERA and 1.61 WHIP through 13.2 innings of work.

In his start on April 7, he struck out seven Atlanta Braves hitters while allowing three earned runs in five innings.

His most recent start against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday was his best. Nelson only allowed one earned run through six innings and complemented that with four strikeouts. A different side to the story.

Same deal with Henry. Even with a 5.79 ERA, he has only allowed two earned runs in each of his last two starts.

It’s the five runs he allowed against the Colorado Rockies on March 30 that inflates his figures.

Lovullo urged the two to block out the noise that came from their uncertainty in the rotation and applauded their recent performances.

“I was really proud of them,” Lovullo said. “I explained that to them. Congrats on the job well done, fighting hard and blocking out the noise.”

Maybe send one of them to the bullpen?

Sending one of them to the bullpen is also a possibility.

Nelson appeared in five games in relief during the 2023 season. He didn’t give up a run in his two appearances during the regular season, a pretty small sample size.

He came in during the 2023 playoffs three times, allowing four earned runs in 6.1 innings.

His final outing of the season came in Game 4 of the World Series in which he threw 5.1 innings in relief, giving up one run on three hits while striking out six.

Henry has an even smaller sample size out of the bullpen, only ever appearing in the majors as a relief pitcher once. He retired four out of five batters over 1.1 scoreless innings of relief on May 27, 2023, against the Boston Red Sox.

“I think it could be possible,” Lovullo said. “It’s where we sit right now as part of our conversation. We are thinking about the best possible team moving forward each and every day. But in five or six days from now, this thing could totally turn around. We have had those discussions.”

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Who stays and who goes for Diamondbacks rotation, Ryne Nelson or Tommy Henry?