NL West Notes: Diamondbacks, Widener, Closer, Ahmed, Dodgers, McKinstry

Taylor Widener will open the season as a member of the Diamondbacks rotation, per’s Steve Gilbert (via Twitter). Widener beat out Taylor Clarke to take Zac Gallen’s spot in the rotation. Widener has been a highly-regarded prospect, first in the Yankees’ system and then with the Diamondbacks. He made 12 appearances out of the Dbacks’ pen in 2020 with a 4.50 ERA/6.49 FIP across 20 innings. Clarke, meanwhile, will head to the bullpen. Elsewhere in the desert…

  • The Diamondbacks are going with a closer-by-committee approach to start the season, per Zach Buchanan of the Athletic (via Twitter). Joakim Soria has been the presumptive closer given his past experience in the role compared to the other options on the roster. Soria’s 223 career saves easily set the pace. Tyler Clippard is second with 68 career saves, and Stefan Crichton comes in third with just five career saves. Nevertheless, Crichton is one of the guys manager Torey Lovullo may turn to late in game. The Diamondbacks might simply want to push some of their less proven bullpen arms to see what exactly they have in someone like Crichton or Kevin Ginkel.
  • Nick Ahmed’s been experiencing knee pain, an issue that he has dealt with in the past. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection as treatment and plans to be ready for opening day, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). Arizona doesn’t have a perfect solution to replace Ahmed, were he to miss time. Josh Rojas would likely slide to short with Asdrubal Cabrera seeing more regular time at the keystone. For now, however, they’ll assume good health and move ahead with Ahmed. While he’s not among the elite at his position, Ahmed has put together a quality three-year stretch, pairing gold glove defense with an acceptable 89 wRC+.
  • Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed that none of the non-roster invitees are still in the running to make their opening day roster, per Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). Presumably, that means Zach McKinstry has made the roster as a utility option off the bench. There is still one roster decision pending for the champs, however, as Roberts says they are not yet decided about their fifth starter. David Price, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsolin are all still under consideration for the role. Price was scratched from his recent start because of illness. He plans to pitch today in a simulated game. (Twitter links). Gonsolin struggled through 3 2/3 innings against the Angels on Sunday night.


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