Diamondbacks Option Jake McCarthy, Drey Jameson


The Diamondbacks optioned right-hander Drey Jameson to Triple-A Reno yesterday, opening up a roster spot for lefty Tommy Henry, who was recalled and started last night’s game. Today, the club is optioning outfielder Jake McCarthy as well, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, recalling infielder Emmanuel Rivera in a corresponding move.

Individually, the moves aren’t necessarily shocking. Both players have started a bit slow here in the early parts of this season and neither is fully established. Each player is 25 years old and came into this year with less than a year of service time. But their demotions, as well as Madison Bumgarner recently getting designated for assignment, perhaps point to the club having more of a win-now mentality than recent years.

The D’Backs went 25-35 in the shortened 2020 season before winning just 52 games the season after and 74 last year. The silver lining of those losing seasons is that they’ve been able to devote playing time to young players like Josh Rojas, Corbin Carroll, Christian Walker and others, who were able to use those opportunities to hone their skills cement themselves as viable big leaguers to varying degrees.

But this year, the club’s emerging young core has helped them jump out to a 13-11 start. With the Dodgers having a modest offseason and feeling less like inevitable conquerors while the Padres and Giants have had slow starts, the D’Backs find themselves leading the American League West. In order to stay that up there, it seems there’s less room for players to develop in the big leagues.

McCarthy looked to have taken a step forward last year, hitting .283/.342/.427 for a wRC+ of 116 while also stealing 23 bases. With him in the outfield alongside Carroll and Alek Thomas, the club felt good enough about its options on the grass to trade Daulton Varsho to the Blue Jays in the offseason. They did get Lourdes Gurriel Jr. back in that deal for some insurance, though he’s a short-term add since he’s an impending free agent. McCarthy hasn’t been able to carry over those results so far, hitting just .143/.229/.238 prior to today’s move. He’s surely due for some regression from a .160 batting average on balls in play, but he’s also not hitting the ball with much authority. He’s currently in the 9th percentile in terms of average exit velocity, 8th in hard hit rate and 34th in barrel rate. He’ll head to Triple-A to try to get into a groove.

As for Jameson, his numbers might not look disastrous at first glance, as he has a 3.71 ERA through six appearances. However, he hasn’t exactly been racking up the outs. He started the season in the bullpen and made three long relief appearances, but then was moved to the rotation when Zach Davies landed on the injured list. His first start was solid, tossing four shutouts innings against the Brewers, throwing 54 pitches in the process. His next start wasn’t quite as good, as he threw 71 pitches but logged only 3 2/3 innings against the Cardinals. Then on Sunday, he only lasted one inning against the Padres. It took him 43 pitches, allowing three hits, three walks and three earned runs in the process.

“If he pitched better, he’d still be here,” manager Torey Lovullo said frankly yesterday, per Theo Mackie of the Arizona Republic. “That’s one of the things that (General Manager Mike Hazen) told him. A 43-pitch first inning puts us way behind, we’re kind of in a box, we’ve got to play a little catchup now with our bullpen. This was a direct response to what he did yesterday and a little bit of what he did in St. Louis as well.”

Those comments seem to reflect the win-now mentality that the club currently has. “We felt like the best thing for Drey at this point in time is to go down, get his timing, get his rhythm and find his stuff,” Lovullo said. “I said it last night: Good major league hitters, when they know you’re throwing a fastball, will get wood on a bullet. I stand by his ability to make pitches and when he does, he’s going to find his way back here.”

With Jameson going to Reno to try to earn his way back to the majors and Bumgarner out of the picture, the club is down to four starters on the roster in Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Ryne Nelson and Henry. They have some off days coming up that could allow them to get by with that group, but it sounds like that’s not the plan. “We have discussed the four-man,” Lovullo said. “We know the off days are there. It was thrown around. We have not made any decisions, but I don’t think a four-man rotation right now is anything we’re interested in.”

Since the club needs a fifth starter, it makes speculative sense that a promotion of prospect Brandon Pfaadt could be imminent, though the club hasn’t made any kind of official announcement in that department. A telling sign could be if he makes his next scheduled start, as he’s currently slated to take the ball for Reno on Wednesday. A consensus top-50 prospect in the league, Pfaadt isn’t on the 40-man roster and would require a corresponding move if he gets the call. He has a 3.54 ERA through four starts in Triple-A this year, striking out 30.1% of batters faced while walking 4.8%.

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