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Arizona's pitching problem
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - "Corbin and pray for rain" doesn't have the same ring to it as "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain." Plus, it really doesn't rain all that much in Phoenix anyway, and even if it did, it wouldn't matter because Chase Field has a retractable roof.

That means some of the Diamondbacks starters not named Patrick Corbin are going to have to contribute at some point this season if the team wants to maintain its lead in the NL West.

Corbin leads the team with nine wins, 85 strikeouts and a 2.22 ERA, and none of the other pitchers who have made at least 10 starts for Arizona have an ERA below 4.55. Three relievers are tied with starter Wade Miley for second on the team in wins with four; Corbin won his fourth game four weeks into the season.

Granted, fantasy owners didn't expect much from Arizona's rotation, which besides Corbin and Miley also includes Trevor Cahill, Ian Kennedy and Brandon McCarthy, as evidenced by the average draft position of its five starters in Yahoo! leagues.

Kennedy was first off the board at 118, followed nearly 90 picks later by Miley (205.8), Cahill (206) and McCarthy (212.6). Corbin's ADP was 146.1, but that doesn't take into account the 94 percent of leagues in which he was not drafted. All those zeroes certainly would bring that ADP down if they were factored in.

But Kennedy, Miley, Cahill and McCarthy were at least useful fantasy arms last season, going a combined 52-41 with a 3.64 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP and 7.06 strikeouts per nine innings.

This year, however, they are 12-25 with a 4.87 ERA, a 1.40 WHIP and a 6.58 K/9. Their collective walk rate has jumped from 2.39 BB/9 to 2.93 BB/9 since last year.

Chase Field is a tough place to pitch, but Kennedy, Cahill and McCarthy all also have ERAs over 5.00 on the road this year. Kennedy and McCarthy's home ERAs are in the high-4.00s, while Cahill's ERA at Chase Field is 3.88. Miley is the only one of the four who has struggled at home while putting up decent numbers on the road, as his ERA at Chase Field is 6.66 compared to 3.82 on the road.

If fantasy owners are looking to buy low on one of the four pitchers, Cahill is your man. While he had a rough June, going 0-5 with a 9.85 ERA and a 2.19 home runs per nine innings, he was also unlucky to post a .402 BABIP in that span.

Cahill's season K/9, BB/9, HR/9 and BABIP really aren't much different that last season, and while his line-drive rate is up from 16.1 percent to 19.2 percent, he has allowed line drives at a rate of just 10.5 percent when it really counts -- with runners in scoring position (RISP).

Cahill's biggest issue has been allowing home runs at the wrong time. While he's an extreme groundball pitcher who doesn't give up a lot of homers to begin with, the right-hander has given up two three-run homers and two two-run jacks over his last five starts. While Cahill allowed eight two-run shots last year, he didn't give up a three-run shot or grand slam at all.

I wouldn't touch Kennedy, Miley or McCarthy, however. Kennedy has a career-high 23 percent line-drive rate and 13.8 percent HR/9, and he is walking nearly one batter more per nine innings than last season. Miley's BB/9 and HR/9 have jumped from 1.71 and 0.65 to 3.03 and 1.23, respectively, from 2012. And McCarthy, who is on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, had a career-high 25.9 percent line-drive rate prior to his injury.

As for Corbin, he might be due for some slight regression, as he has a .241 BABIP even though his line-drive rate of 20.7 percent is close to league average. However, as long as he continues to keep the ball in the park and pitch well with RISP -- he has a 15.7 percent line-drive rate and a 5.6 percent HR/FB in those situations -- he should be fine.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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