Diamondbacks’ Merrill Kelly, Eduardo Rodriguez ready to throw from a mound

Jul 8, 2024, 4:42 PM

Merrill Kelly...

Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Colorado Rockies during the fourth inning at Chase Field on March 29, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Tuesday will be a busy day at Salt River Fields, as manager Torey Lovullo said pitchers Merrill Kelly, Eduardo Rodriguez and Jordan Montgomery will each throw a bullpen between 20-25 pitches.

Getting back on the hill is a key step toward a return for the three veterans, particularly for Kelly (teres major strain) and Rodriguez (shoulder strain) considering their extended absences. Kelly made four starts before landing on the IL in April, while Rodriguez has yet to debut for Arizona after signing at the Winter Meetings.

Montgomery (knee inflammation) went on the IL retroactive to June 29, so his progression will be faster than the other two.

Lovullo said Kelly and Rodriguez would probably need three or four bullpen sessions before getting into simulated games.

“Just depends on the type of injury, how they’re feeling, but Jordan might be a little sooner than later,” Lovullo said. “E-Rod and Merrill might be a little bit longer. I don’t know the exact number. Just depends on how they feel and what that build up is.”

Typically, the longer a starter remains out, the more drawn out the building up process will be, especially for arm injuries.

Kelly mentioned a potential mid-August return during a Q&A last month, although Lovullo has not publicly given any target date. Rodriguez appears to be on a similar track.

Lovullo said a pre-All-Star break return for Montgomery was not feasible and that the club will pinpoint a day after play resumes and work toward it.

“He’ll throw a bullpen, get some live hitters, get him into a (complex league) game and then just see where he’s at,” Lovullo said.

The Diamondbacks have received the fourth-fewest innings from starters in the league this season in large part due to the injuries. Arizona ranks No. 22 in starting pitcher fWAR at 4.5.

Zac Gallen and Kelly had been workhorses for the club over the past two years (829.2 innings combined between 2022-23, including postseason), and both arms have spent time on the IL. Gallen will make his third appearance since the start of June on Tuesday.

In the meantime, the D-backs continue to rely on youth to build innings and are testing out some new prospects. Yilber Diaz will make his MLB debut on Monday after Cristian Mena received his first big league taste on Wednesday.

Drey Jameson continues to throw

Drey Jameson will also throw a second bullpen on Tuesday after he took the mound on Friday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery. Lovullo has ruled out any possibility Jameson would rejoin the D-backs this season.

“Probably just continue to build up arm strength, work on delivery stuff, face some hitter and be ready for a normal offseason. That’s the most important thing,” Lovullo said.

Brandon Pfaadt update

Speaking of injuries to starting pitchers, Brandon Pfaadt exited his start on Saturday at Petco Park after taking a comebacker. The team said he suffered a left ankle contusion.

“Brandon Pfaadt, I think under most circumstances, will be making his next start,” Lovullo said.

Pfaadt lines up for Thursday and will throw a bullpen before then, which will test out his leg.

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