The D'Backs hoped that Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson could carry the rotation through the 2010 season. Next year, the team will rely on a completely different set of arms. Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders and Daniel Hudson were all in different organizations this time last year, but they figure to have spots in Arizona's 2011 rotation.
Rodrigo Lopez and Barry Enright now hold the remaining two sports in the rotation, but Lopez is a free agent after the season. Enright, who has posted a 2.81 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in his first 41.2 major league innings, has emerged as a legitimate candidate for a 2011 rotation spot.
Even if Kennedy, Saunders, Hudson and Enright remain healthy and claim four starting spots, one opening remains. Bryan Augenstein, who entered the season as the team's 11th-best prospect, according to Baseball America, has been hit hard at Triple A. The club could look to Kevin Mulvey, who has big league experience and acceptable, but not inspiring Triple A numbers (4.97 ERA).
Another pair of current minor leaguers could also compete for spots in next year's rotation. Matt Torra, 26, has been hittable at Triple A, where he has a solid 3.97 ERA and has shown excellent control (1.8 BB/9). Wade Miley, a 2008 first rounder, has pitched well this year, but the 23-year-old has just nine appearances above A ball. Jarrod Parker could have been a rotation candidate, but he will miss 2010 with Tommy John surgery, so the D'Backs can't count on him in 2011.
Like Parker, Webb has yet to pitch in 2010 because of injuries. The 2006 Cy Young Award winner hits free agency after the season and doesn't figure to be the sort of pitcher the D'Backs would pursue. Because no potential starter other than Saunders has much major league experience, Arizona seems like a fit for a steady veteran looking to sign a one-year deal. A dependable arm would complement Hudson, Kennedy, Enright, Mulvey, Augenstein, Miley, Torra and Parker, who have combined to start just 55 big league games.
That inexperience will likely put the D'Backs in the market for a veteran starter. Dave Bush, Kevin Millwood, Lopez, and former D'Backs Doug Davis, Jon Garland and Livan Hernandez could all hit the open market this winter. Unless the D'Backs are comfortable starting Joe Saunders and a bunch of youngsters, I'd expect them to pursue a consistent free agent starter.