Chip Hale on five big decisions for the D-backs over the break
The Diamondbacks need the All-Star break to regroup.
After dropping eight of their last 10 games heading into the Mid-Summer Classic, Arizona faces several big decisions to make by the time the second half of the regular season rolls around Friday with a home game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
D-backs manager Chip Hale dropped into Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Burns and Gambo show Tuesday and spoke on the big question-marks he and his staff must tackle in the next few days.
Who’s ready to come back from the disabled list?
Ace Zack Greinke won’t be back for his next scheduled start.
Outfielders David Peralta and Chris Owings still have a trip to the minors in between their MLB returns to shake off the rust. Starting pitcher Rubby De La Rosa won’t be ready until at least the end of July while outfielder A.J. Pollock remains out of action until at least September, according to Hale.
“We had hoped that we’d get two, three of those guys back to start the half and really kind of energize us. We’re not,” he added. “They’re not going to be ready. We have to be very patient. David Peralta and Chris Owings are going to start playing games tomorrow here at the Arizona Rookie Leauge. I’ll get a chance to see them (Wednesday and Thursday). And then Friday, they’ll probably take a day off and head out somewhere to a higher affiliate and get a good week to 10 games in so they come back game-ready. We don’t want anyone coming back and not ready to contribute at a high level.”
Peralta and Owings are close.
Greinke will “hopefully” begin playing catch this week, Hale said. Then, the team will make decision on whether he pitches a simulated game or a rookie ball game.
How will Arizona clean up the starting and middle-relief pitching woes?
Hale agrees that the Diamondbacks’ biggest issue heading into the break has been its pitching issues.
The starters, some of whom have been called upon because of injuries, have struggled. So have the middle relievers.
How close does Hale think the D-backs are when it comes to getting enough production out of those spots in order to win?
“The injuries have hurt us. Are we close to getting there, from 2 through 5? I think we are,” the manager said. “I think we’re very close. They all showed, from 2 to 6 or 7 really, if you look at (Tyler) Wagner, who’s going through some injury issues in the minor leagues, you look at (Zack) Godley, there are a bunch of guys vying for those 2 through 5 spots. They’ve all shown us they can do it, but they have to be consistent doing it. We know we have a No. 1, which is not easy to find.”
From the sound of it, Arizona could be close to giving its minor league pitchers a chance to show their stuff in the majors.
“We said when we started out on this whole deal, it wasn’t a one-year deal,” Hale said. “Whether it would happen right away or it was going to be … two years, three years. We have some guys signed up for some length. So you’re right, we have to find out. The middle relief spots are, we’re going to figure that out by the end of the year. These guys are all going to give us great chances to impress us.”
Is Shelby Miller heading to the minors?
No. 2 pitcher Shelby Miller admitted after giving up six earned runs on July 6, his last start, that he would be open to coming out of the bullpen to work out his issues before the All-Star break. He didn’t get the chance, and now the team must decide whether a minor-league stint is in his future.
“I’ll tell you, our goal for Shelby, as quick as we can, is to get him back to the spot we figured we had when we traded for him. That was the No. 2 spot,” Hale said. “For that to happen, it’s not going to be easy. He’s going to have to really battle and figure this stuff out. We as coaches and the pitching guys, we brought in everybody we can. We’ve studied the mechanics, we think we have that figured out. And now he needs to pitch at that level.”
“We’ll figure that out in the next three or four days and we’ll have a better answer for you when we come back from the break,” Hale added.
Will Jake Lamb earn more time against lefty pitchers?
Jake Lamb’s last hurrah of the first half of 2016 came against a rolling Madison Bumgarner. In the first-half finale Sunday, the Giants’ left-handed pitcher was vying for a no-hitter when Lamb’s single in the top of the eighth frame broke it up.
The left-handed Lamb had been held out of many games against lefties. In 60 at-bats against left-handers, he’s batting .200 with 20 strikeouts in 2016 compared to .314 in 257 at-bats against right-handed pitchers.
Hale expects he’ll play Lamb, who is second in slugging percentage in the majors, “a lot more” against lefties in the second half of 2016.
“Obviously his production has been so good,” the skipper said. “He has a good enough eye to handle lefties. Of course, his days off will probably be lefties because we have a lot of right-handed hitters that can play for him. He will play against a lot of lefties for the second-half of the year, for sure.”
Who will be the new closer with Brad Ziegler traded to the Red Sox?
Arizona shipped closer Brad Ziegler to the Boston Red Sox on Friday for two prospects, opening the team’s closing job. Hale said veterans Daniel Hudson or Tyler Clippard could be options to close, but both remain potential trade chips until the trade deadline passes on August 1.
“It’s going to be difficult whether it’s Huddy or Clippard or one of the younger kids that are going to get opportunities now,” Hale said. “It’s not an easy thing to do to pitch the ninth inning. We’re going to find out not only who has the stuff but who has the stuff.”
Young relievers currently on the 25-man roster include Jake Barrett, Enrique Burgos, Zac Curtis and Silvino Bracho.