The Diamondbacks’ starting staff has been a respectable unit this season, though the club hasn’t been able to find a capable fifth option to plug into a rotation that includes Zack Greinke, Luke Weaver, Robbie Ray and Merrill Kelly. Zack Godley has received ample rope this year, having racked up eight of the nine starts that haven’t gone to Greinke, Weaver, Ray or Kelly, but hasn’t come close to replicating his useful production from either 2017 or ’18. Godley turned in his latest unappealing performance of the year Saturday in a loss to the Giants, whose normally impotent offense chased him after totaling four earned runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Earlier this week, before Godley’s outing against San Francisco, Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen told reporters (including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic) that it would be “ideal” for the 29-year-old to regain form and lock down a rotation spot going forward. However, with Godley battling a velocity drop and ranking last in ERA (7.90), fifth worst in K/BB ratio (1.52) and 15th from the bottom in FIP (5.45) among 109 major leaguers who have thrown at least 40 innings this season, it doesn’t look as if the Diamondbacks can continue holding out for a resurgence.
Hazen, cognizant of Godley’s struggles, revealed in the wake of Taijuan Walker’s newest arm injury that Arizona will likely “look to add” starting pitching leading up to the July trade deadline. Hazen didn’t even close the door on a pursuit of free-agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel, per Piecoro, saying: “We’re going to look at starting pitching now, I would imagine, as we move forward. We’ll see how we get through this next brief period of time. And then I’m sure we’ll be looking at all options of starting pitching.”
Keuchel may finally end his holdout and sign somewhere once the first few days of June pass, given that a team would no longer have to surrender draft pick compensation for inking the qualifying offer recipient. But the longtime Astro might not be able to help a club for at least a few weeks after signing, considering he’d probably have to ramp up before returning to a major league mound, and could still score a payday outside the Diamondbacks’ comfort zone.
Whether or not the Diamondbacks land Keuchel or swing a summer trade for rotation help, it appears they’ll have to continue trying to make do with in-house possibilities for the time being. That could mean demoting Godley from the rotation – something the Diamondbacks already did earlier this season before reinstating him – in favor of one of their younger choices.
Promising prospect Taylor Clarke, the only other D-back to get a start this year, has impressed over a limited sample of work and is eligible for a recall after the team optioned him May 9. The 26-year-old Clarke has turned in ugly results with Triple-A Reno this season, though, which could give the big league club pause. On the other hand, fellow prospect Jon Duplantier has been Reno’s top starter and has held his own in Arizona across 12 innings as a reliever. Duplantier, 24, may be the team’s best hope right now to stabilize the back of its rotation. Either way, the 25-21 Diamondbacks are going to have to figure something out quickly in order to maximize their chances of earning a wild-card spot.