Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitching woes continue in loss to Angels

Jun 12, 2024, 10:12 PM

Starting pitcher Slade Cecconi #43 of the Arizona Diamondbacks is removed by manager Torey Lovullo ...

Starting pitcher Slade Cecconi #43 of the Arizona Diamondbacks is removed by manager Torey Lovullo #17 during the fourth inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on June 12, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks have run out of found money.

The replacements for all the injured starting pitchers are less so cracking at the seams and more so have definitively crumbled to a fully busted open dam. Slade Cecconi gave up seven earned runs in Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

Los Angeles racked up 10 hits in his three innings of work with two homers and three doubles. The contact was loud and convincing. Six of the 10 hits had an exit velocity of at least 98 miles per hour.

“Starting pitching for us I felt like could have been better,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “Slade needs to be on the attack, work his fastball on the edges and complement that with some secondary stuff. It’s a grind. I’m not gonna lie to you.

“It’s a grind when your starting pitching gives you three, possibly four innings and it’s happened a couple turns now. So we’re looking for a couple of these guys to step up, pitch deep into the game, take a little pressure and a little stress off our bullpen and start to maneuver the way we know we can.”

Fastball command was an issue and Cecconi noted postgame it is due to a mechanical problem he has had flare up over his career. He and pitching coach Brent Strom were on top of it afterwards.

Arizona entered the day with a 4.77 ERA for its starting pitchers, a bottom-five mark in baseball, per Fangraphs. Considering this was a team primarily built around that unit and defense, it is in some ways surprising for the D-backs to now hold a 32-36 record and still be perfectly in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Zac Gallen is the only D-back with at least five starts that owns an ERA under 4.50. He is currently on the injured list along with Eduardo Rodriguez and Merrill Kelly. Rodriguez hasn’t pitched yet, Kelly has four appearances and we might as well lump in Jordan Montgomery here because his 6.58 ERA is a far cry from what was expected out of him among this group that should rival any in baseball when fully healthy.

In some ways, the D-backs were decently situated for this compared to some other organizations.

It’s not like there was a complete lack of arm talent on the farm. Cecconi, Tommy Henry, Ryne Nelson and Blake Walston were all highly-ranked prospects within Arizona’s system at one point. The front office’s hope was surely that a minimum of one would develop into a solid MLB starter for the back-half of the rotation. It’s far too early to declare that ship as sailed, especially for the rookie Walston, but the odds are grim and further emphasizes the importance of Brandon Pfaadt being pretty darn good for the foreseeable future.

The D-backs don’t have many other options in the meantime.

“We know the guys are banged up — it’s an incredible opportunity for some of our young pitchers. … We’ve seen it in spurts,” Lovullo said. “And that’s what spoils us.  We just want it to be consistent.”

Cecconi’s ERA now sits at 6.70 in 44.1 innings.

Arizona’s offense was never in this after finding a groove over the last dozen games. Angels righty Jose Soriano cruised, tossing eight innings of two-run ball off five hits and two walks. It was the 25-year-old’s fifth straight outing of at least six innings and his season ERA dropped to 3.48, a successful beginning to his first full year in the majors as a starter.

Christian Walker’s solo homer in the eighth was the lone damage off Soriano. He exited in the ninth after giving up a lead-off single to Geraldo Perdomo. Ketel Marte then homered. Arizona did not have an at-bat with a runner in scoring position and grounded into four double plays against Soriano. It only left one runner on base.

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