D-backs send Cahill to bullpen in another rotation move
PHOENIX — On the night Josh Collmenter made his first start of the season, the Diamondbacks continued their rotation remake by calling up rookie Michael Bolsinger and moving Trevor Cahill to the bullpen.
Bolsinger was promoted after a fast start at Class AAA Reno and is scheduled to make his first major league start Saturday against the Dodgers in Cahill’s rotation spot. Cahill has won at least 10 games in four of his last five seasons, but he is 0-4 with a 9.17 ERA this year, and at 4-11, the D-backs felt they could not wait any longer for him to return to form.
"We felt we had a better opportunity to win the games going this way. Give somebody else a chance," manager Kirk Gibson said.
Bolsinger, a 15th-round draft choice in 2010, won his first two starts at Reno this season, posting a 1.42 ERA with a repertoire that includes a cut fastball and one of the best curveballs in the organization. While Bolsinger has never been in the spotlight like some of the other Diamondbacks’ young pitching prospects, he has always been on general manager Kevin Towers’ short list.
"I’ve never seen this guy not pitch well," Towers said. "He reminds me a lot of Collmenter. If you are a scout and see him as an amateur, you probably don’t turn him in because he is not going to light up the JUGS gun, but the results are always there. He stays off the barrel of the bat. He has no fear. He’s a strike-thrower.
"We brought him up top be one of our five starters. This is not short term. This is long term, and hopefully successful. ‘Gibby’ and I talked to him at the end of spring and said, ‘You know you never see your name in print, but you are on our radar screen. Keep doing what you are doing and you will be a big league pitcher.’"
That time is now. The Diamondbacks’ starters entered Monday’s game with a 7.18 ERA, the highest in the majors by more than a run and a half. The starters had given up the most walks and the most home runs in the majors, and only Tuesday starter Bronson Arroyo has an ERA under 5.00.
"What that tells me is that we’re not establishing the inner third of the plate and opposing hitters are getting very comfortable at-bats against us, and that has to change," Towers said of the home run and walk numbers. "We haven’t executed pitches. We haven’t hit our spots. When guys get comfortable middle-away, you get results like we have. I know that Gibby and ‘Hark’ (pitching coach Mike Harkey) have been preaching it, but they don’t throw the baseball."
With that in mind, Bolsinger’s strategy would seem to fit perfectly.
"This year I’ve really started pitching inside, which was something I was uncomfortable doing last year," said Bolsinger, 26. "I think that’s been the difference-maker. That’s something I really need to keep doing."
The recent sweep by the Dodgers seemed to be the last straw for the rotation. The Dodgers took 4-0, 5-0 and 5-0 leads in those three games, putting extra pressure not only on the bullpen but the offense. The D-backs were outscored by 32 runs in their first 15 games, even while averaging four runs a game and leading the majors in total bases. They have lost games in which they’ve scored eight, six and five runs (three times) and entered Monday six games behind NL West-leading Los Angeles.
"Certainly didn’t see this coming. It’s pretty obvious our starting pitching has not been good, and it is going to have to get better for us to make a run at this thing," Towers said. "Losing (Patrick) Corbin hurt, but I didn’t expect our starting pitching to be as bad as it has been the first 2 1/2 weeks of the season. I think it will be better, just based on what these guys have done in the past."
The D-backs considered promoting Bo Schultz, Towers said, but did not believe promoting Archie Bradley was in anyone’s best interest at this time. Schultz is 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA at Reno. Bradley is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA.
"I think Archie still needs more time down there, as well I don’t think it is a proper environment for him with what’s going on with the ballclub," Towers said. "I think throwing him in here, he would be viewed as a savior. If we were playing a little better baseball, maybe. Right now, I don’t want to put that on him.
"One thing that we like and we need is somebody who knows how to throw strikes, and Bolsinger, one thing he has always done is limit walks. Bo still sometimes can be a little erratic. We need innings. We need somebody to get us to the sixth or seventh. Of the options we had, (Bolsinger was) the guy we felt would give us five, six innings and be in the strike zone."
Cahill will be used as a long reliever in the short term, Gibson said. He could not have been optioned to the minor leagues without his permission since he has five years’ service time, but the D-backs never considered that.
"I’m not pitching well. There are no excuses," Cahill said. "I want to go out and keep pitching as much as possible, but if that is not the move, that is not the move."
Towers and the Diamondbacks are hoping the change will help Cahill regain his confidence.
"It might take a little pressure off. It’s tough when you are going through what he is going through. Going to the bullpen will take a little bit of the edge off him."