Beyond Arizona's two obvious studs, Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, most of the fantasy hype for potential Diamondback impact starters has been delegated to two talented individuals: Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs.
Yet even though the 2012 rotation is down two of it's original members only one month into the season, neither of the aforementioned pitching phenoms have came anywhere close to big league action. Instead, Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin, two of Arizona's less flashy prospects, have stepped up to fill the void left from Hudson's shoulder injury and Josh Collmenter's early season struggles.
But is it possible that one of these two pitchers could also fill void in your make believe team's lineup? Possibly, unless you suffer from sinistrophobia. What's that you may ask? Oh, it's just the fear of left-handedness. And apparently I'm suffering from a case of terribly vague and lame humor so I'm just going to jump to the analysis part:
The case for Wade Miley
His 2011 was solid but far short of spectacular with a 1.39 K/BB ratio and 4.50 ERA across 40 innings. But besides serving up three earned runs in a relief appearance in the last home stand against the Braves, he's been essentially flawless in 2012. In his other 19.1 innings this season, Miley has yet to give up a single run and has pitched two straight quality starts against Philadelphia and Miami since replacing Hudson in the rotation.
It's hard to say what exactly has caused Miley to take the next step but some credit has to go to his change up evolving into more of a complimentary weapon. Opponent are hitting only .194 this season against that particular pitch and because of that, he now has the confidence to throw something else besides his fastball when he gets behind in the count.
His control issues are improving but he's still only averaging a 2.14 K/BB ratio which could be concerning to those in leagues who have WHIP as a category. It's also worth noting that Miley's starts this season have came against two teams that rank 27th (PHI) and 28th (MIA) in total runs this year. Furthermore, when he ran into the top five offense of Atlanta, he struggled mightily as was stated before.
The case for Patrick Corbin
Corbin's first major league start came Monday against Miami and while he earned the win, there was undoubtedly some rough patches. Serving up eight hits and three walks in his 5.2 innings of work, the 22-year-old was rattled at times but never lost his composure and made some nice plays defensively.
Clearly the sample size is small but it's worth noting that Corbin had an absolutely dominant spring. Limiting opponents to a .178 average while compiling a 3.00 ERA and 20 Ks across 21 innings in training camp, Corbin earned the esteemed honor of being manager Kirk Gibson's unofficial man-crush which certainly can't be a bad thing.
Overall, Corbin should continue to make baby steps of progression with each start he puts under his belt. Moving forward, control shouldn't be an issue as Corbin as has averaged a mere 1.64 BB/9IP throughout his four year minor league career.
Truly, there's a lot to like about both of these pitchers and their projected production shouldn't be too deviate too much for the 2012 season. However, we must factor in the current situation of the Diamondbacks pitching staff when making a final decision.
Hudson was placed on the 15-day DL on the April 21 and since his last start came three days earlier, he could theoretically come back on May 3 if he's healthy. Really though, there's not a chance that happens as Hudson has yet to even begin playing catch yet. And when you factor in that the D-backs are certain to be extra cautious considering it's a shoulder injury, it could be closer to mid-May before he makes his way back into the rotation.
With that in mind, it's looking like Miley and Corbin will most likely get two to three more starts to prove who is more worthy of keeping a permanent spot. But unless Corbin pitches back to back no-nos, it's looking like it's Miley's spot to lose.
It's possible that Gibby's man-crush will overrule all common sense but Miley is the more seasoned of the two and has done everything right this season, including cleaning up after Collmenter's consecutive messes. Additionally, assuming one of the two isn't optioned back to the minors, Corbin is the better suited of the two for a middle relief role as all three of his pitches tend to miss bats more than Miley's. Plus, this scenario would be a perfect way for Corbin to accumulate more experienced while not being relied too heavy on at a young age.
Final say: Yes, Gibson is always unpredictable when it comes to these types of moves but regardless, Miley should be the better pitcher to target in this situation simply because he was the first man called upon when an injury occurred. But that doesn't mean Corbin can't be an asset in the meantime starting with his next match up against a less than intimidating Mets lineup this weekend.