The Diamondbacks are standing at a crossroads with Zach Davies as he impresses during his rehab assignment. The 30-year-old pitcher showcased his prowess last week in Triple-A, throwing 4 2/3 innings of brilliance. In this span, Davies shut down the opposition without conceding a single run, allowing only three hits, and displaying his dominance with seven strikeouts.
Having inked a one-year deal with the D-backs in the offseason, Davies faced a setback due to a strained left oblique, restricting him to just two games before landing on the injured list. The team’s starting rotation took another hit when veteran Madison Bumgarner was designated for assignment two weeks ago, leaving the Diamondbacks in a challenging pitching predicament.
In response, the team made strategic adjustments, primarily relying on the talents of rookies Tommy Henry, Ryne Nelson, and Brandon Pfaadt. However, a pivotal question looms over the organization: with Zach Davies set for a potential return on Saturday, who will be the chosen one to step down?
While Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly hold secure spots, the Diamondbacks must decide on one of their promising rookies in the coming days.
Ryne Nelson: Selected in the second round of the 2019 draft, Ryne Nelson quickly ascended to the big leagues to assist in closing out the D-backs’ 2022 season, given their absence from the playoffs. His initial foray into the major leagues was marked by two consecutive shutout starts, each spanning at least six innings. The final game of that season against the Padres saw him pitch 5.1 innings, conceding three earned runs.
However, the narrative has evolved this year, with the 25-year-old encountering different challenges. Despite finding his footing in recent starts, Nelson carries a 5.20 ERA across 10 appearances and has secured only one victory.
Tommy Henry: Emerging towards the end of the previous season, left-handed pitcher Tommy Henry made his mark in nine appearances, recording 47 innings and striking out 36 batters. However, his performance yielded a less-than-ideal 5.36 ERA.
Notably, Henry’s journey to the opening day roster was unconventional; he returned to the rotation following the DFA of Madison Bumgarner. Alas, his performance this season echoes that of 2022, struggling to maintain an ERA below 5.00.
Brandon Pfaadt: The latest rookie addition, Brandon Pfaadt, showcased his potential as the MLB’s #51 overall prospect with his debut in early May. Regrettably, he has yet to complete a sixth inning since then, grappling with a 7.65 ERA across four starts.
Given these challenges, the Diamondbacks face a crucial decision regarding Pfaadt’s readiness for the majors.
The impending return of Zach Davies forces the Diamondbacks’ hand, compelling them to evaluate the performance and potential of their rookies. As the pitching landscape evolves, the organization’s choices will undoubtedly shape their trajectory in the fiercely competitive league.