PHOENIX — One celebrated rookie pitcher has made his Diamondbacks debut this season. Is another on the way?
This much we know: Wade Miley will make his scheduled start in one game of Wednesday’s split doubleheader against the Marlins.
The D-backs have not announced their other starter, but highly regarded left-hander Tyler Skaggs appears to be a leading candidate to make his first major league start that day.
“It’s not finalized,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson made sure to emphasize in his pregame press briefing Monday.
Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers are expected to meet after Monday’s game to discuss pitching plans. It has already been determined that the D-backs will not push up Patrick Corbin a day to pitch on three days’ rest, Gibson said.
“We still have a couple of options available. I think you guys are aware of who they are,” Gibson said early Monday.
He almost certainly was referring to Skaggs and right-hander Trevor Bauer, who made his first major league appearance June 28.
Skaggs, ranked as the No. 13 prospect before the season by Baseball America, was scratched from a scheduled start at Class AAA Reno on Sunday, which could be read as a strong indicator of the D-backs’ intentions.
He is a combined 9-6 with a 2.87 ERA at Class AA Mobile and Reno this season. He had held opponents to only four earned runs in his previous 40 2/3 innings before giving up eight runs in five innings in his most recent outing Aug. 14.
Bauer, Baseball America’s No. 9 preseason prospect, made four starts for the D-backs after being promoted from Reno in late June. He was 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in 16 1/3 innings in his first taste of the majors, and it seems unlikely the D-backs would bring him up again before rosters expand on Sept. 1.
At the same time, Bauer struck out 12 in a complete game 8-2 victory over Round Rock last Friday, giving up five hits and walking only one. He is scheduled to pitch for Reno on Wednesday, so he would be pitching on regular rest if he were promoted. He is 12-2 with a 2.30 ERA in his time in the minors.
“We’ve been gone a lot. ‘K.T.’ has been out on the road. We really haven’t had a chance to sit down as a staff or an organization and really discuss it,” Gibson said.
Skaggs, who turned 21 last month, has appeared in the last two editions of the Futures Game, which features the top talent at the minor league level. His first D-backs start — if it does come Wednesday — would not be his first Chase Field start, as he started for the U.S. team in the 2011 Futures Game at Chase Field. Skaggs is not on the D-backs’ 40-man roster, but they have one spot open. As a 2009 draft pick, Skaggs would have to be protected on the major league roster this winter, so bringing him up now would have no down side.
Gibson said he has not decided whether Miley will start the 12:40 p.m. game or the 6:40 p.m. game Wednesday. The doubleheader was necessitated to break up a stretch of 23 straight days with games, an oversight that slipped through the league office and the players’ union when the schedule was made. Major league teams can play no more than 20 straight days, according to the collective bargaining agreement.
“You just weed your way through it,” Gibson said of the upcoming decision. “There is really no reason to make that decision now. If you can convince me of a good reason, I guess I’d tell you. But I don’t have it figured out. There are several angles. We’ll go through them.”
Miley, a top Rookie of the Year candidate, would have a full four days’ rest if he pitches the night game, as he pitched the night game Aug. 17 in Houston. He went six innings in a 3-1 victory.