D-backs Starters Have a Heavy Workload

D-backs Starters Have a Heavy Workload

Afraid to turn to an ineffective bullpen, Arizona Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch has ridden his starters hard. The D-backs' four primary starters are all among the league leaders in both pitches and innings pitched, increasing their risk of wearing down in the second half.

Dan Haren leads the major leagues with 1,761 pitches thrown and is fourth with 108 1/3 innings pitched. Yet he is not the only Diamondbacks starter who has a heavy workload this season, in large part because of an ineffective bullpen.

The starters often have been asked to get three, four or five more outs in a game this season to compensate. Rodrigo Lopez is tied for 11th in the NL with 100 innings after throwing eight against the Yankees on Monday, and Edwin Jackson (98) and Ian Kennedy (95) likely will hit triple-digits in Tampa Bay over the weekend, before the season is half over.

Kennedy, in his first season as a full-time starter, has thrown 1,583 pitches, 10th in the NL. Jackson is 15th at 1,559, and Lopez has thrown 1,472. Haren threw a career-high 126 pitches against the Dodgers on June and had not thrown fewer than 114 pitches in his four June starts before being pulled after seven innings and 109 pitches in a 9-3 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday.

"We can't continue to ride him to heavy," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said ofKennedy.  "It's easy to want to do that. It's easy to want to leave him in. We've taxed him pretty much every start. He's never really had a breather."

Haren and Jackson, to a lesser extent, are used to the workload. Haren has thrown at least 216 innings in each of the last five seasons, with a career-high 229 1/3 last year. He is on pace for the 220-plus this season. Jackson cracked 200 for the first time last season, at 214.

"Our starters have been pushed quite a bit," Haren said. "Me and Edwin are used to it. We'll be fine."

It remains to be seen if the D-backs can ride the others as hard. Lopez, who missed most of 2008 because of Tommy John surgery, is on a pace to set a career high in innings, although he has thrown only 256 innings combined, in the majors and the minors, since 2006. His career high is 209 1/3 in Baltimore in 2005. Kennedy missed most of last year because of an aneurism, and his 165 1/3 innings in 2007 combined between the majors and minors is his career high.

"I'll let them make the decision," Kennedy said of his workload for the remainder of the year.

YANKEES 6, DIAMONDBACKS 5 (10 innings): The D-backs could not convert a golden opportunity in the 10th -- bases loaded, no outs -- against RHP Mariano Rivera, failing to get the ball out of the infield in their final three plate appearances to lose the series two games to one. 1B Adam LaRoche tied a career high with five RBI on a pair of two-run singles and a groundout. RHP Aaron Heilman walked the first two batters he faced in the ninth inning before the Yankees scored to tie the game. It was the D-backs' 13th blown save of the year.

SNAKE BYTES

--1B Adam LaRoche entered Wednesday's game 2-for-16 without an RBI against the Yankees' starter, RHP Javier Vazquez, but that did not hold up long. LaRoche had two-run singles in the first and fourth innings against Vazquez and added an RBI groundout in the sixth. He tied a career high with five RBI, the fifth time in he's reached that figure and the second time this season. LaRoche is hitting .326 with 16 RBI in his last 12 games.

--C Miguel Montero extended his hitting streak to nine games -- all the games he has started since coming back from a nine-week absence following surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee -- with a fourth-inning single, and he added another hit in the eighth. He is hitting .405 since returning from the disabled list. His career best is a 10-game streak.

--RHP Sam Demel retired all four batters he faced Wednesday, and he has retired all 10 men he has faced in his first three major league appearances after being acquired from Oakland for LF Conor Jackson. Demel has recorded 11 outs in those 10 batters -- he got a double play from SS Derek Jeter to end the sixth inning Wednesday, erasing an inherited runner. "I'm just out here trying to put up outs," Demel said.

--RHP Dan Haren's two-run single in the second inning Tuesday extended his hitting streak to six games, his second six-game hitting streak of the season. 2B Kelly Johnson (four), CF Chris Young (three), and SS Stephen Drew are the only other D-backs who have as many as two six-game hitting streaks this season. Haren set a career high with 19 hits, one more than he had in 2009, and his 53 hits since returning to the NL with the D-backs in 2008 are the most among major league pitchers. "I do everything I can up there to have the best at-bat I can, make the pitcher work. I wish I'd have been pitching better," Haren said.

--RHP Kris Benson (shoulder) was given an MRI and received two shots of cortisone last Friday after cutting off a rehab assignment because of soreness at Class AAA Reno. "We just wanted to wipe out that little bit of inflammation," Benson said. Benson was the first of four No. 5 starters the D-backs have used this season, and the most effective, before suffering shoulder soreness in a start at Colorado on April 28. He has since been followed by RHP Cesar Valdez, RHP Billy Buckner, and LHP Dontrelle Willis.


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