This looks like a game kids play.
Remember musical chairs. When the music stops, grab a chair and the last one sitting win.
In a similar fashion, the Diamondbacks seem to playing this game. When the music stops, those standing are out of a starting rotation in desperate need of wins and cohesion.
The music stopped last night and lefty Tyler Skaggs did not appear to have a seat. In the most literal interpretation, The Skaggs Experiment could near an end. At worse, the organization’s patience may be thin.
After a disastrous outing Saturday against San Diego in which Skaggs walked five, hit a batter and gave up seven runs in three and two-third innings, the Diamondbacks immediately optioned the native of Woodland Hills, Calif. to Triple A Reno.
Conversely, Skaggs is only 22 years old, but the Diamondbacks may have rushed him to the major leagues. Pitchers short in experience rarely have the maturity, luxury and acumen to flourish immediately at the major league level.
When Skaggs was knocked out in the fourth inning Saturday, that early departure may portend the future. In clearly his worst production of the season, Skaggs absorbed an embarrassing 12-3 defeat to the San Diego Padres before 30,033 in Chase Field.
The collective 12 runs equaled the season high for most runs allowed in one game. That was set at St. Louis on June 6.
The result took Skaggs out of the rotation and returned the left-hander to the minor leagues.
“I’ll go down there and work on my fast ball command,” Skaggs said after the demotion was announced. “It’s not like I was rocked (on Saturday). I just didn’t throw strikes. It’s frustrating , it’s my fault and I can’t account for that right now. Look, it is what it is.”
After Chris Denorfia slammed a two-run homer in the fourth to push the Padres into a 7-1 lead, manager Kirk Gibson moved his way to the mound. As soon as he cleared the steps, Gibson immediately signed to the bullpen, and his action was clear body language of a frustrated field general.
“(Skaggs) had no command of his fast ball and then put pressure on himself to make up for that,” Gibson said. “Plus, the velocity on his fast ball seems to go down as the game moves along.”
This is third time Skaggs has been optioned to the minors this season, but Gibson said the reason is for education.
“Look, let’s be honest and fair,” the manager said. “It’s all part of the development. He has a bright future, but needs to address some issues.”
Part of the problem may be Skaggs’ attempt at perfection.
“(Skaggs) puts too much pressure on himself to be perfect every time,” said catcher Miguel Montero, who returned to the line-up for the first time in four games Saturday. “I go out and talk to him, try and settle him down and tell him just to throw strikes. He’s searching for that perfect pitch and that creates problems.”
The immediate demise of Skaggs merely exacerbates the starters’ dilemma. With one starter already in double digit losses (Trevor Cahill 3-10) and two others threatening (Ian Kennedy at 3-7 and Wade Miley at 7-8) to slide into that forbidden region, the future looks bleak.
Gibson said Kennedy will open the next trip against the Rays in Tampa this Tuesday night , and Miley will follow in the two game set. By the time the Diamondbacks reach Boston next weekend, Gibson said Brandon McCarthy will come off the disabled list and start one of the three games in Fenway Park against the Red Sox.
As the Diamondbacks now head into the final two months of the season and the heat of a possible pennant race, the starting rotation continues to dominate team concerns.
The trading deadline looms this Wednesday July 31, and general manager Kevin Towers has been known to pull off more than one last-minute deal.
The three-hit, shut out from Randall Delgado Friday night over San Diego may make decisions for manager Kirk Gibson easier.
Or, more difficult.
With right-handers Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill currently on the disabled list, the first inclination is they will rejoin the rotation only when healthy and ready.
In McCarthy’s case, that might be one direction. At this point, he is slated to come off the DL (placed on June 1), and start one of the three games next weekend against the Red Sox in Fenway Park.
For Cahill, his 3-10 season record and 4.66 may not be a welcome addition. To that end, Delgado’s production, work ethic and ability to learn from previous mistakes clearly fits into Gibson creed as “a Diamondback.”
Plus, Delgado’s numbers seem to get better which each start. With his stellar effort Friday against the Padres, Delgado turned in the fifth “quality start” in his last six starts and could push several from the rotation.
Should Gibson decide both McCarthy (right shoulder inflammation) and Cahill (right hip contusion) are ready to rejoin the rotation, important decisions will have to be made.
With Skaggs now in the minors, there could be two remaining starting spots open. That would result if Gibson remains uncertain as to Delgado’s spot in the rotation.
There’s also the issue of Cahill’s timetable. Once that is decided, the future of Delgado in the rotation could be settled.
“(Delgado) has taken coaching and instruction to heart, and I started to see a turn-around in him (as early as St. Louis, June 3),” Gibson said. “I talked him about competition at this level, and he’s turned into a very good pitcher.”
At this point, Gibson would not commit Delgado to a regular spot in the rotation, only to explain, “we’ll go with our best starters.”
Seemingly lost in this equation is a struggling Ian Kennedy.
With a mark of 3-7 and ERA of 5.22, Gibson dismisses the notion of sitting Kennedy out for a turn or two. Yet, if his production does not increase and Kennedy shows little life or emotion as the pennant race heats up, Gibson may be forced to alter the rotation in ways he could not image just a few weeks ago.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The current home stand ends Sunday.
Left-hander Patrick Corbin (12-1, 2.31 ERA) opposes the Padres’ Tyson Ross (0-4, 3.60 ERA) for a 1:10 p.m. start.
The Diamondbacks then hit the road for those two in Tampa against the Rays, a make-up game from a previous rain out in Texas against the Rangers on Thursday night, and a three game set, next weekend, in Boston.
Then, it’s back to Chase Field for an eight game home stand. This features two against the Rays, three with the Mets and two against the Orioles.