Monitoring and Managing Pitchers

Before the 2010 season began, the Arizona Diamondbacks player development staff got together to create a plan for managing the pitching staff. One of the items on their agenda was to determine workload for their young starting pitching.

At the time they were talking about Ian Kennedy whom they traded for along with Edwin Jackson. Kennedy was coming of an injury and the team hoped to limit his total innings to 180. This allowed him to extend himself but also made sure he was not overworked that could cause future injury.

The other members of the Diamondbacks pitching staff, Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, and Rodrigo Lopez had all been workhorses in the past and did not need inning limits placed upon them. Brandon Webb, coming off an injury would be monitored but no inning total would be established for him.

Now with just under two months remaining in the 2010 season, things have definitely changed. Webb has still not begun pitching to batters and it is looking more likely that he will not return this season.

Edwin Jackson and Dan Haren have both been traded. The starting pitching which had looked solid was now filled with question marks. What had been anticipated to be a mature and veteran presence was now filled with several pitchers having limited professional experience.

Lopez and Kennedy remain in the rotation and the Diamondbacks have added Joe Saunders, Barry Enright, and Daniel Hudson. Lopez and Saunders are not being subjected to inning totals but the other three will all be closely monitored and shut down if totals are exceeded.

Going into Wednesday August 11, Lopez leads the team with 146.2 innings. After his last outing in Milwaukee Kennedy has 139 innings. Enright has now thrown 141.1 innings between Double-A Mobile and the Diamondbacks. Hudson has pitched 124.2 innings between Triple-A Charlotte, the Chicago White Sox, and the Diamondbacks.

Each of these three pitchers will be limited to 180 innings total meaning Kennedy will throw 41 innings, Enright will throw 38.2 innings, and Hudson will throw 55.1 innings. If each goes seven innings Kennedy will get six more starts, Enright will get five starts, and Hudson will get eight starts including tonight.

This will most likely mean none of the three young pitchers will be throwing the final two weeks of the season. As rosters expand in September, look for the Diamondbacks to call up pitching help to make these starts.

Most likely candidates to make these starts will be Kris Benson (assuming he comes back from injury), Bryan Augenstein and Kevin Mulvey. Given the struggles each of these pitchers have had at the major league level, the last week of the season may see the starting pitchers last just once through the batting order giving the beleaguered bullpen to either reduce their ERA or completely blow up.

Not exactly the end of the season any of us hoped for during Spring Training.


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