Galarraga Joins Arizona’s Rotation

Since last July, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been on a mission to improve their pitching rotation. Heading into Spring Training, the Diamondbacks were set to open the season with three pitchers acquired over the last seven months. With their recent trade for Armando Galarraga, they may be looking at a completely overhauled rotation in 2011. Although Galarraga gained national fame by nearly throwing a perfect game last season, his overall numbers left much to be desired. We’ll see if Galarraga can add stability to a rotation in flux.

If Galarraga can win a spot in the rotation this Spring, the Diamondbacks could potentially open the season with four recently acquired pitchers. Joe Saunders and Daniel Hudson were acquired in deadline deals last season, while Zach Duke and Galarraga were acquired this off-season. The only pitcher reprising his 2010 role is Ian Kennedy, who is coming off the best season of any current Diamondbacks starter. Barry Enright and Aaron Heilman are expected to compete for rotation spots as well, but neither has experienced success as a starter at the major league level.

Given the weak competition and his track record in the majors, Galarraga should be able to win a spot in the Diamondbacks rotation. It’s unclear, however, whether Galarraga represents an upgrade over any of the current Diamondback starters. Galarraga isn’t able to overpower hitters, and needs to control his walk rate if he wants to experience success. Sound familiar? The scouting reports on Saunders and Duke read the same way. All three pitchers will need to rely on the Diamondbacks strong defense up-the-middle if they hope to experience success in 2011.

Another troubling trend among Diamondbacks starters (including Galarraga) is their generosity with the long ball. Of all the projected starters (Saunders, Kennedy, Hudson, Duke, Galarraga), only Hudson managed to hold hitters to a respectable HR/9 rate. Saunders’ rate jumped immediately after joining the Diamondbacks, and both Duke and Galarraga could struggle even more in their new ballpark.

Despite pitching in a park that depresses home runs, Galarraga posted a HR/9 rate of 1.31 last season. Moving from a strong pitchers park to a hitter’s paradise will only magnify those issues since Galaragga qualifies as a fly ball pitcher.  If Galarraga is not an upgrade over the Diamondbacks’ current options, then why did they acquire him? Much like Duke and Saunders, Galarraga will eat up innings and comes at a relatively cheap price. While those innings might only equate to league average production, perhaps the Diamondbacks see value in penciling in 150+ innings out of three starters. Galarraga will also move to the National League, where he will face weaker lineups. Looking at the Diamondbacks’ recent history, Saunders, Hudson, and Kennedy all pitched more effectively after joining the National League. The Diamondbacks hope Galarraga will experience that same success now that he has moved to the NL.

Despite the acquisition of Galarraga, the Diamondbacks’ rotation is still in shambles. Galarraga should provide a solid amount of innings, but his production will be too dependent upon his defense. In Galarraga, the Diamondbacks acquired a pitcher no different than Saunders or Duke. Even though Saunders will be asked to pitch like the Diamondbacks’ “ace” this season, none of those three pitchers profiles as a front-end starter. As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hudson or Kennedy emerge as the Diamondbacks top pitcher next season. The Diamondbacks seem to value innings-eaters, however, which is probably one of the main reasons they acquired Galarraga. There’s certainly value in taking the ball every fifth day, but Galarraga alone will not save this troubled rotation.




Print This Post



Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


27 Responses to “Galarraga Joins Arizona’s Rotation”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. CircleChange11 says:

    I hope DBack relievers have been conditioning all winter. Gonna be another long, long, long season.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. The Ancient Mariner says:

    Strong Detroit connection in the Snakes’ rotation — Galarraga from the Tigers, Hudson from the White Sox in exchange for a pitcher they got from the Tigers, and Kennedy from the Yankees as part of that three-way deal with the Tigers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. David K says:

    Notice that Duke, Saunders, and Gallaraga are all on one-year contracts. My take is that they are all one-year stopgap players that the Dbacks could get cheaply to eat innings to supposedly limit the exposure to their weak bullpen. I believe that after this season, the Dbacks get out from under a lot of deferred contracts for players that were on the team circa 2001. At that point, they may be able to bump the payroll by a significant portion and make a splash by aquiring at least one, if not two, high-profile starters. I haven’t looked to see who is projected to be available after 2011 though.

    As a Dback fan, I was also HOPING that the same thing applies to the Blum/Mora platoon at 3B. I still can’t believe they “sold low” on Reynolds. Even in his worst year last year, his RE24 was league-average, and he appears to be well above league average in his other years. Yes, he strikes out a lot, but he produces runs, plus he has pretty good speed, which is a more valuable commodity to me than two unproven relievers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steve says:

      Saunders and Galarraga are arbitration-eligible. That doesn’t make them stopgaps, especially not Saunders, since he was one of the key components of that awful Dan Haren trade.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • David K says:

        They are eligible, so that gives the DBacks flexibility to either offer arbitration or not. Depending on how they perform in 2011, if the Dbacks decide to spend more money on one or two FA pitchers (or acquire by trade), they may keep one of these guys around in 2012 as a 5th starter.

        I don’t think Saunders was really a key component to the Haren trade. I think Skaggs was, and they just needed a cheaper innings-eater to replace Haren in the rotation, and Saunders happened to fit that bill.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Scout Finch says:

    As a result of looking at their peripherals, one would expect Kennedy or Hudson to pitch like the D-Back’s “Ace”.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • David K says:

      Agreed. I think the Dbacks plan to build around those two pitchers in 2012, and the other three are mostly stopgaps as I said above. They could be holding auditions for 2012 and bring one of those three back, but they have a lot of flexibility there.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Paul says:

    So there is a single statistic cited here, and it is HR rate for a single season. I’m not necessarily disagreeing with the take, but I had to check the numbers for myself to arrive there. Could have read this in the newspaper, offense intended.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Spiccoli says:

      You dick.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • tonysoprano says:

      You guys and your stats. Not everything is stats. Geez.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Chris Cwik says:

      The alternative is that I list out each stat and this reads like a player card rather than an article.

      That’s why FanGraphs links player cards to each player mentioned in an article. So you can see that the conclusions the author comes to in each articles they write are legitimate.

      I do the research and come to my conclusions without listing off loads of stats because it makes for a better story.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Paul says:

        Assuming that I want a “player card” based on a complaint that this article contains a single statistic is insulting. This is, in fact, a stats-based site. Let me give you some pointers on how using stats in a story on a stats-based site might help.

        1) Is the HR rate from last year low, high, are you selecting only that year because it’s representative?

        2) Without citing any stats, you lump him in with other known soft-tossers whose performance is highly reliant on balls in play. I can’t tell if you’re just relying on last year’s SO rate, because not only do you not state it, you don’t actually even refer to the SO rate. Last year’s SO rate was the lowest of his career, and he has logged enough innings to have established a baseline.

        3) Same goes with his BABIP, which has been significantly below average 2 out of 3 years, inflating his FIP and xFIP. You state that he’s reliant on defense without noting the low BABIP, which goes back to his minor league days also.

        4) Maybe provide some context by noting that Bill James projects a return to his historical SO rate, a continued low BABIP, and a repeat of last season’s mid-4 ERA.

        None of this makes him any more than a back end starter, but you spent a bunch of paragraphs saying so without citing any statistical support for it. Again, I would expect to see that in the newspaper, not on Fangraphs.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Scout Finch says:

      In the spirit of the Tucson Memorial speech and “words that heal not wound”:

      Do you see all those names in bold type up there? When you right click and open in new tabs, you can gander and compare/contrast all manner of statistic until your heart is content.

      Be content.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • fredsbank says:

      hey paul, if you dont like it, you can click that little x on the top right of your screen.

      go ahead, really, we won’t stop you.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. will says:

    what a coincidence! Today I wrote about this crappy rotation too!

    I cited your article as well

    What are your thoughts on Enright? He seems to have fringe stuff at best, though his FB does have some life for not being high 90s

    -w

    http://ducksonthepondkid.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/a/

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Scout Finch says:

      He has nice little month of August last year. Showed good command of his ‘fringe stuff’. Seemed like a very serviceable 4/5 at the time.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Oakland Dan says:

    Wait until D’Bags fans get a load of Galarraga’s stuff. Look, I know that NL West hitting is supposed to not be as good as AL Central hitting (I don’t even know that this is true by any significant margin anymore), but this guy just loves to surrender homers, particularly to left-handers. Here are how some NL West sluggers’ HR numbers will be affected in 2011:

    Projected HR, 2011:
    Before Galarraga | Galarraga
    Huff: 21 24
    Posey: 19 21
    Headley: 12 25
    Helton: 7 36
    Loney: 6 7
    Ethier: 28 72
    K. Johnson: 21 20 (no inter-league homer off Galarraga)

    My point is, he is not good.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Oakland Dan says:

      Oops, that didn’t format correctly. Oh well.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • David K says:

      OK, whatever. Headley’s HR total is going to double, and Ethier’s total is going to increase almost 3x just because Gallaraga is in the division? I’m not sure what numbers are supposed to be there, but they can’t be the ones you posted.

      Also, what’s with the “D’bags”? I thought this site was for more reasonable people than the ESPN message boards, which are loaded with insults like these. You’re username here “Oakland Dan” would lead me to believe you’re an A’s fan, and they aren’t even rivals of the Dbacks, nor have they accomplished anything in the past two decades to give you the right to trash Dback fans.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • fredsbank says:

        dave i think those bits where the homers have ridiculous increases are intended to affect a humorous reaction, not sure though

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • fredsbank says:

      if todd helton hits 36 homers next year, i’ll blow you

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Oakland Dan says:

        I was joking, yeah, but it’s a deal.

        My point is that Galarraga really does stink. I am telling you, watch for home run fireworks at, what is it, Chase Field? Bank Of America Park at Goldman-Sachs Yards? I don’t remember. In any case, if you are interested in getting a baseball (and probably a rash) get a good spot in that little pool when Galarraga is pitching.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. rick p says:

    I get why the D-Backs did this

    If anybody can tell me why this is a plus for the Tigs Id like to know. They got a relief pitcher penciled in like he’s automatic and Brad Penny in the other slot

    The crap they got back at least throw strikes which is more than you can say for the whole draft Dombowski spent on relief pitchers. If ya draft and groom a RP he’s got squat to fall back on. Draft an arm and teach him a change and RP is just a fall back. Its always been that way

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dwight S. says:

      It’s a plus for the Tigers because they won’t be paying a mop up/long reliever 2.5 million dollars which is all Galarraga would be at this point for them. If Coke and/or Penny fail they have Andy Oliver in the minors who has better stuff than Galarraga that they can use. The fact that they actually got anything in return was pretty shocking to me considering they just DFA’d him.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Matty Brown says:

    At least Galaragga was a gentleman with that silly umpire who fucked his perfecto.

    I certainly wouldn’t have been so kind.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dwight S. says:

      Ironically that was probably the only time he was a perfect gentleman in Detroit when something didn’t go his way. He whined and moped when the Tigers pulled him out of the rotation in 09 because he was terrible, he threw a fit when they designated him this past year before the all star break so they could bring up an extra player(Galarraga just pitched and wasn’t going to be needed for awhile because of the break so they wanted to use his spot on somebody that could play) and got in more than one on camera argument with Leyland, pitching coaches and catchers when they tried giving him advice. It wouldn’t of surprised me if he privately demanded this trade or to be let go.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Dan says:

    For what it’s worth, I kind of understand why Arizona is getting some contact-oriented control-artist innings-eaters – to put it simply: because they have a good defense. It’s not like we’re running these guys out there with an outfield of Manny/Kemp/Ethier (honestly the first three terrible outfielders I thought of, not trying to piss off Dodger fans) and just waiting with our thumbs up our butts for the doubles to fly.

    We have a few legitimate OF defenders in Parra, CY, and Upton (XNady is a below-average corner guy, though), a good SS in Drew, a serviceable defensive platoon in MoraBlum at third, Miranda who supposedly is good at first, and an average 2B in KJ. Sure, the ballpark isn’t a perfect fit, but the defense sure supports the idea of having these pitch-to-contact types on the mound. Relative to the costs of high-strikeout arms, these guys are probably going to provide good value.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>