Part 1 of Desert Pepper's look at the 2009 Arizona Diamondbacks. Starting us off is, naturally, starting pitching.
Throughout the franchise history, Arizona's always had a solid rotation. Even if the offense was nothing more than a gentle windmill for the catcher, the rotation would have at least have Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, or Brandon Webb, along with a reliable second pitcher like Omar Daal, Livan Hernandez, or Javier Vasquez. This year they have two aces — certainly not another Johnson/Schilling, we may never see that — and beyond that, the depth chart is filled with mystery, injury, and promise. Before the lineup learns how to produce, the pitching has to shut down the other team's bats. And this year they ought to accomplish that.
BRANDON WEBB — No other pitcher has had a better three years than Webb. He's either won the Cy Young or finished runner-up to someone else. Yet I think most people will agree Webb is not the best pitcher even in his own division. That honor would go to the Giants' Tim Lincecum. But Webb, as reliable as he always is, just needs to do his thing for another year: keep the ball down in the zone, get ground ball outs, and win games.
DAN HAREN — Anytime the Oakland A's let go of a starting pitcher, immediately I wonder trainers have these guys undergo physicals just to make sure they are not filled with snake oil. Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, and Joe Blanton are just some of the prolific starters who left Oakland for other destinations with extremely mixed results. Haren had himself a pretty damn good year in 2008. (Being an All-Star will traditionally warrant that.)
Like Webb, Haren just needs to continue his moj. Being 28 years old, which is supposed to be the peak age for a pitcher or something, he ought to have no problem with that.
DOUG DAVIS — Here's where the rotation gets dicey. Davis is currently battling through spring training while experiencing pain in his left triceps. He should heal by spring training, though. After all, he's already beat cancer. What's a little arm pain?
The man's ERA and WHIP numbers resemble an extremely average pitcher, and I know wins and losses don't tell the whole story, but in this case they do. In fact, every year of Davis' career, his win and loss totals have been within two of each other:
Even his career record is well-balanced. Adrian Monk would approve of that.
JON GARLAND — Essentially, this is the new face in the rotation that said goodbye to Randy Johnson. He's on the downslope of his career, and his 2008 season with the Angels was a far cry from his 2005 All-Star, World Series year with the White Sox.