The phrase “Free Trevor Bauer” has been popularized by ESPN analyst Keith Law in recent week. Bauer, the third overall pick in last summer’s draft out of UCLA, is widely thought of as a guy who could have started the season in the majors. The Diamondbacks took the conservative route with Bauer, and started him at AA Mobile. In 22 2/3 innings, Bauer has struck out 28 while walking 14, and has allowed just 12 hits and one earned run. Compare that performance to that of Arizona’s current fifth starter, Josh Collmenter. In 18 1/3 innings this year, Collmenter has allowed 20 earned runs, six homers, and has a 16:5 strikeout to walk ratio.
Collmenter isn’t a top prospect or a guy who can have much sustained success at the major league level. Last year, he had a 3.38 ERA in 154 1/3 innings, but thrived with his control: he struck out 100, and only walked 28. He allowed 17 homers on the season, and his major tool for success is “deception”, because of his odd delivery. Sure enough, in Collmenter’s final two months in the majors last year, he threw 58 2/3 innings, struck out 37, walked ten, and allowed eight homers. That’s not a good indicator of future success. Collmenter’s struggles this year peaked last night against the Phillies, when he allowed six runs to Philadelphia’s pathetic, anemic offense.
While Bauer is walking more than his share of batters this year in Mobile, he’s still dominating. He’s allowed just a .158 batting average and is striking out more than a batter per inning. It’s just pure filth from a 21 year-old with under 50 innings of professional experience. If Arizona thinks Bauer needs a little more seasoning, they’ve got another option at AA that might be ready to roll right now: Tyler Skaggs, who was acquired from the Angels in the Dan Haren trade. In 17 1/3 innings this season, Skaggs has struck out 27 batters while walking just three. Those are just video game numbers. He doesn’t have the overall dominance as Bauer, allowing a .279 batting average, but is getting twice as many groundballs as flyballs, an important indicator of future success.
Arizona doesn’t even need to make a choice regarding Collmenter right now, if they think for some reason he can turn it around. Daniel Hudson was placed on the DL with a minor shoulder injury, and won’t resume throwing until the end of the month. Instead of replacing him in the rotation with Skaggs or Bauer, the Diamondbacks instead turned to Wade Miley, and replaced Miley in the bullpen with Jonathan Albaladejo. Miley is what he is, and really doesn’t possess the upside of either Bauer or Skaggs. Hell, he’s probably on the same plane as Collmenter and Joe Saunders: a guy who can be a fourth or fifth starter on a mediocre team. The 25 year-old Miley made his major league debut last year for the Diamondbacks, and in 40 innings, he struck out 25 while walking 18 and allowing six homers. A line like that goes over like a fart in church, and this is a guy that the Diamondbacks are going to give starts to. Unfortunately for Diamondbacks fans, management’s opinion on Miley may have been swayed by his start on Monday against the Phillies, where he shut them out for six innings with seven strikeouts. Of course, ignore the three relief appearances earlier in the season where he combined to throw 8 2/3 innings with four walks and just two strikeouts, put all your faith in a game against an awful offense!
The Diamondbacks aren’t in the danger zone just yet, as they’re keeping pace with the Giants behind the Dodgers in NL West. The problem for the Diamondbacks comes in their schedule in the next couple of weeks. They just lost three out of four to the Braves over the weekend, and have split two games with the Phillies thusfar. After the Phillies leave town, the Diamondbacks travel to Miami and Washington, with a less threatening trip to New York mixed in there. Then, it’s back home, where the Diamondbacks will host the Cardinals and Giants. This is a huge stretch for Arizona, and they’re going into it with Saunders (enjoying a solid first three starts, though two of them came against awful offenses), Miley, and Collmenter in their rotation. Couple that with a banged up Justin Upton, no Chris Young, and a struggling Trevor Cahill, and Arizona could be in trouble in the next couple of weeks.