The Arizona Diamondbacks placed starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a strained UCL in his right elbow.
Placing a pitcher on the disabled list is nothing out of the ordinary. But this is Arroyo’s first trip in his professional career.
The 37-year-old has never missed a start in his 19-year career. Since his professional debut in 1995, Arroyo has made 546 starts without injury. He has made at least 29 starts in each of the past 10 seasons and has pitched at least 199 innings in nine of those seasons.
His durability and consistency were the driving force behind the two year $23.5 million contract the Diamondbacks gave him this offseason. In 2014 Arroyo has pitched to the level the team expected. He’s given up a lot of hits (9.6 per nine innings) but has a respectable 4.08 ERA and is third on the team in innings per start (6.1).
Arroyo has never been considered an elite starting pitcher but the team was counting on him to make 30 starts and pitch around 200 innings.
But before this article turns into an obituary for Arroyo’s season, let’s marvel at how amazing it is that he avoided the disabled list for this long. He managed to stay healthy in an era where a new pitcher has Tommy John surgery every month.
He ranks seventh among active pitchers in innings pitched with 2,364.2 and has done that in 405 appearances which is the second fewest among the top seven only ahead of A.J. Burnett.
Fans of advanced metrics are accused of neglecting the importance of durability. That is untrue but it is true that players are not as durable as they were in previous eras. We will never see another player like Cal Ripken Jr. who played in 2,632 consecutive games. Players like Arroyo who take the mound every fifth day for 10 years are rare and should be celebrated.
Arroyo will not throw for 10 days and see how his elbow feels. After that he will try to throw for two weeks to regain strength in his arm. He hopes to be back around the All-Star break but Tommy John surgery is not out of the question.
The Diamondbacks recalled Mike Bolsinger who will start tonight’s game. It is unclear whether Bolsinger will remain with the club until Arroyo’s return or if this is merely a short term solution. Bolsinger was dreadful in four major league starts this season carrying an ERA over six.
If the Diamondbacks require a long term solution they have a few options. The 2014 season is a lost cause so trading for a front end starter like Jeff Samardzija or David Price is out of the question. But they could trade for a middle of the rotation starter like Jason Hammel or Jake Arrieta.
If they decide to go with an in-house solution they have some options. They could call up Bo Schultz, a pitcher who has struggled in Triple A but has dominant Double A numbers. Schultz is a strikeout pitcher, a trait major league managers love. They could also choose Charles Brewer. Brewer has been dominant in Double A this season posting a 2.53 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Brewer is a native of Scottsdale, AZ and was effective in four relief appearances for the Diamondbacks in 2013.
If they want guys with major league experience they have two options. They could recall Trevor Cahill, who was designated for assignment last week. Cahill has been dreadful in the majors in 2014 but has the most major league experience of anyone in the club’s farm system. Or they could call up Lucas Harrell, who they acquired from the Houston Astros in April.
Harrell was a solid pitcher for the Astros in 2011 and 2012 posting an ERA+ over 100 in both seasons. He didn’t fare well in 2014 for the Astros posting an ERA over 9 in just three starts. He has not pitched well in Triple A Reno but a change of scenery might make Harrell successful.
Diamondback fans are crossing their fingers for a quick recovery for Arroyo. He is a fan favorite who is much better than the alternative options the team has.