D-backs Look for Rock 'n' Roll Pitching from Bronson Arroyo

The Diamondbacks believe Bronson Arroyo will help give them the pitching they need to win the West.

Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy both sustained injuries and were underwhelming while healthy.

And the bullpen was a disaster.

The once-reliable set-up man/closer combination of David Hernandez and J.J. Putz became anything but reliable, and Putz sustained an injury that kept him out nearly two months. The acquisition of closer/reliever Heath Bell turned out to be a bust.

Manager Kirk Gibson
Andrew Pielage
Manager Kirk Gibson
Patrick Corbin, who's out for the season.
Andrew Pielage
Patrick Corbin, who's out for the season.

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The Diamondbacks led baseball in blown saves, en route to finishing with another 81-81 record.

This year, the team's front office wanted to pull in a starter, perhaps an ace.

The team showed interest in a trade for the White Sox's Chris Sale, the Rays' David Price, or the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija, none of which materialized. According to a Japanese newspaper, the Diamondbacks were one of five teams that offered a contract worth more than $100 million for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who ultimately selected a larger payday, of course offered by the New York Yankees.

A few weeks later, the Diamondbacks signed Arroyo, who's never been considered an ace in his 14-year career.

His fastball averages about 87 miles per hour. He doesn't strike out a lot of hitters, and he's never had a 20-win season.

"I've never been a superstar. I've never been a guy who throws 95 mph, but you have to accrue some sort of database for people to value what you do in this game," Arroyo says.

Indeed, he hasn't been brought to the D-backs as an ace. And you don't have to be an ace to be a stellar pitcher. Arroyo fills other needs — he's pitched more than 200 innings in eight of the past nine seasons (he pitched 199 innings in one season), and he's posted a winning record in five of his past six seasons.

The innings issue is significant, because no relief pitcher in the National League logged more innings last year than the Diamondbacks' Josh Collmenter, who's usually brought in when a starter is bounced from a game early.

Consider that, last year, McCarthy and Cahill combined for 47 starts, only 19 of which were considered quality starts — allowing three earned runs or fewer while pitching six or more innings. With the Reds in 2013, Arroyo started 32 games and had 22 quality starts.

Having someone who's been consistent throughout his career is a different taste for the Diamondbacks, an organization that's been plagued with pitching problems in the post-Randy Johnson era.

Brandon Webb, after winning the Cy Young in 2006, finished second in Cy Young voting in 2007 and 2008, but his career effectively ended the next year because of shoulder problems.

Max Scherzer, the Diamondbacks' first-round pick in 2006, didn't do anything stellar in his time with the Diamondbacks and was traded to the Detroit Tigers in 2009. He won the Cy Young with the Tigers last season.

Acquired in the trade for Scherzer was Ian Kennedy, who was a Cy Young candidate for the Diamondbacks in 2011 but never came close to playing at that level again and was traded by the team last year.

Daniel Hudson needed Tommy John surgery to repair his ulnar collateral ligament in 2012 and while, preparing to come back from that injury, injured the ligament again, requiring another Tommy John surgery.

Trevor Bauer, a former first-round prospect, was traded before the 2013 season after disappointing pitching performances in the big leagues. This off-season, Tyler Skaggs, also a former first-round pick, met the same fate.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the team's top pitcher last season, Patrick Corbin, may need Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He underwent the procedure Tuesday, March 25, and will be out for the season.

Indeed, if there's ever a team that needs a consistent pitcher, it's this one.

Arroyo's never made a trip to the disabled list in his career. Knock on wood. He did miss that time in spring training this year with the bulging disk in his back, but it doesn't appear to be a significant injury.

On the mound, just as in many other aspects of his life, Arroyo does things differently.

He has a high, straight leg kick in which his foot nearly reaches head-level. He throws from multiple arm angles. And expect to see him shaking his head at pitch calls from veteran catcher Miguel Montero.

"I probably call my own game as much as anyone who's ever played the game," he says. "I pretty much shake off every pitch unless he just guesses what I want."

Arroyo has a fascination with reading people, in baseball and in other facets of his life. His perceptions of hitters are why he likes to call his own pitches and why he's been so successful doing it over his career.

"It's because I have pitched with non-dominating stuff, but calculating the next move," he says. "[I'm] beating you in the chess match by watching the shit you're laying down with your body language, with your eyes, with your anger, with your emotion."

"You fuckin' suck, bro!"

Arroyo heard this one from a bar patron in Cincinnati.

Most people would either ignore this guy or hurl back something equally nasty. Anyone expecting that out of Arroyo doesn't know him well.

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