We’ve already seen multiple young pitchers go down with elbow injuries that immediately lead to the looming threat of Tommy John surgery, and we’re only half way through the month of March. Unfortunately for the Arizona Diamondbacks, their young ace Patrick Corbin appears to be the next arm to join the doomed.
Corbin left his start on Saturday due to stiffness in his forearm, usually a pretty telling sign of something potentially very damaging. Further examination revealed damage to his elbow, specifically to his UCL. While the Diamondbacks have yet to announce publicly how they plan to approach the Corbin injury, one would have to imagine that Tommy John is likely going to be the route that the team chooses to take.
That’s a huge blow for a team that was hoping to keep up with the Los Angeles Dodgers for a National League West title, and one that has worked so hard to build up their pitching staff this winter. They built up depth to a certain degree, adding Bronson Arroyo, but obviously Arroyo is not Patrick Corbin, who came on as a Cy Young contender after a brilliant 2013 season. The question for the Diamondbacks is how they plan to compensate for his absence, and whether or not they can prevent Corbin’s injury from derailing their season before it even gets started.
The obvious choice here is going to be Archie Bradley. The top pitching prospect in Arizona’s system, Bradley was seen as a contender for a rotation spot, at least in an outside fashion, before any injury actually occurred. Does this open up a door for him to grab a spot? While that remains to be seen, it certainly increases his opportunity of joining the pitching staff right out of the gate, if not within the first month or two of the regular season. If he puts on a dynamite performance for the rest of the spring, he could absolutely be in the starting five by the time Opening Day rolls around.
Another young pitcher that could grab an opportunity is Randall Delgado. Delgado got something of a raw deal with the acquisition of Arroyo, as he was a contender for a spot at the back of the rotation. Delgado, a former top prospect of the Atlanta Braves, came on strong in the second half of last year. He’s definitely seen as a potential piece of the future for this rotation, but is also out of options. With that key fact in mind, one would have to imagine that he’d be the guy to immediately replace Corbin in the starting five.
At this point, little is known as far as what the Diamondbacks could do here. They could leave it to the respective performances of Archie Bradley and Randall Delgado for the remainder of the spring to determine if Bradley gets the spot and Delgado is relegated to the bullpen or if Delgado gets the spot and Bradley gets a final bit of seasoning in the minors.
To a certain degree, this element of the remainder of the spring is exciting. Two of the better young pitchers within the organization fighting for spots is an intriguing scenario for the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, you’d obviously want this situation to come under better circumstances than it looks like it’s going to.