With Wade Miley up to take the injured Jason Marquis’ spot in the starting rotation — and veterans Zach Duke and Micah Owings in the bullpen — the Diamondbacks should move Trevor Bauer to the major leagues. A bit of wishful thinking? Sure. But Arizona needs to roll the dice on this 20-year-old.
Let’s pretend, for a second, that Arizona isn’t satisfied with Miley as its fifth option (perhaps he has a bad start to open up, or maybe he gets injured). The Diamondbacks could then move Duke or Owings into the rotation — options that have failed on multiple levels already — or the team could bring up another minor-leaguer from Reno.
Or they could call up the most major-league ready prospect from the 2011 MLB draft.
Don’t take my word for it, though. Take Bauer’s 25 strikeouts in his first 14 professional innings — with six coming in his first five innings at double-A — as proof of his nascent dominance. Take his 1.25 ERA and 203 strikeouts in 136 college innings as proof that what we’re seeing now isn’t some small-sample-size fluke. Sure, we all know minor league and college numbers don’t always translate to the majors. So it is in situations like this that scouting data is most valuable. And Keith Law is one of the best there is. This is from his draft report:
Bauer’s fastball-curveball combination is already a big league-caliber arsenal, and he’s shown he can get deep into games with regularity despite the lack of prototypical physicality. His heavy college workload — topping 130 pitches in the majority of his starts this spring — could impact whether he helps the Arizona Diamondbacks this season or what role in which that would come. He’s an upgrade to either unit, however, and the club is well within reach of the National League West lead.
Of course, this story is somewhat dated, as the Diamondbacks now hold a 3.5 game in the National League West — and despite a mere 34% chance at the division from Baseball Prospectus’s odds — the gaggle of recent injuries the Giants sustained now suggests that Arizona holds the inside track.
Arizona isn’t a team without weaknesses, and the back of the rotation swiftly became one after Marquis’ leg injury this week. Joe Saunders has stretch experience and a 3.77 ERA, but his 4.67 FIP suggests he could collapse at any moment. Miley is just as unproven as Bauer but without the pedigree. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Bauer is the fourth-most-talented starting pitcher in Arizona’s organization. If I’m running a team in a playoff race, I’d want the most talented team on the field. For Arizona, that means Bauer should be in the starting rotation.
Jack Moore's work can be seen at VICE Sports and anywhere else you're willing to pay him to write. Buy his e-book.