CHICAGO — The Diamondbacks on Friday finalized their starting rotation for the second half of the season, with rookie Trevor Bauer keeping a spot and Josh Collmenter returning to the bullpen to make room for Joe Saunders.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson announced the decision before the opener of a series with the Cubs.
“We just think it’s the way to go,” Gibson said. “We want to keep Trevor in the rotation.”
Bauer, who is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts since his June 28 call-up, will start the second game of the D-backs ‘ series with the Reds on Tuesday. Rookie left-hander Wade Miley will start Monday.
Saunders is set to come off the disabled list Saturday for his first start since being scratched from a June 22 start due to left shoulder inflammation. With Saunders returning, the D-backs had to decide between Bauer and Collmenter for the last rotation spot.
Gibson said shortly after Bauer’s major league debut that the rookie was part of the team’s rotation plan for the rest of the season, but he struggled in his first two starts while Collmenter, who started in place of Saunders, was pitching well. In three spot starts, Collmenter threw 16 innings with a 1.69 ERA — much better than his results early in the season.
Collmenter has thrived as the team’s long reliever, posting a 1.59 ERA in 22 2/3 innings, which Gibson said was part of the reasoning for returning him to that role. Bauer also pitched six scoreless innings in his third start, a win over the Dodgers, assuring he’d remain in the majors.
With Saunders returning, the D-backs must make a corresponding roster move Saturday. Gibson said that move hasn’t been determined yet, but it’s likely that a pitcher will be sent out.
Beginning a stretch of 20 games without a day off, Gibson is hoping the extra rest he got his starters in the first half will help weather this stretch.
“Do I know that it’s going to help them? I don’t, but it’s my guess,” Gibson said. “I’m hoping they have more in their tank. They’re going to be digging down.” SCHEDULING CONFLICT
Following the 20-game stretch to open the second half, the D-backs get an off day before a 10-game stretch. After that, the schedule calls for the team to play 23 straight games without an off day, which is in violation of Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.
Article V of the CBA on scheduling outlines a maximum amount of games that can be played consecutively:
“No Club shall be scheduled, or rescheduled if practicable, to play more than 20 consecutive dates without an open day.”
A D-backs official confirmed Friday that the scheduling error was overlooked previously, but the league is now exploring options to alter the schedule and get in accordance with the CBA.
Indications from team officials are that the schedule likely will be adjusted to create a day-night doubleheader at some point, thus providing an off day. Details of such a change are still be worked out.