This is the fifth and final part of a series that looks at the five best players at each position for every Major League team. The focus of this article is the starting and relief pitchers with the Arizona Diamondbacks, a franchise that began play in 1998. The starters are split into top fives for both right- and left-handers.
The Best Starting Pitchers and Relievers in Diamondbacks History
Honorable Mention – Zac Gallen – Rarely in baseball does a trade work out for both teams. The one in 2019 in which the Diamondbacks got Gallen and the Marlins received Jazz Chisholm Jr. is one of those trades. Both have been All-Stars, with Gallen starting in this year’s game in Seattle after posting an 11-4 record in the first half. In addition, he went 12-4 last year and has a 32-33 mark over five seasons with Arizona. He also ranks second among starters in team history with a 3.12 earned run average.
5. Ian Kennedy – He sits sixth in team history with 52 wins and is also fifth with 798 2/3 innings and sixth with 119 games started and 705 strikeouts. Although he was never an All-Star, Kennedy’s 2011 season in which he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA was one of the best in team history. He made two starts with the Diamondbacks in the 2011 playoffs.
4. Robbie Ray – He came to the Diamondbacks in the three-team deal that involved the Tigers and Yankees and sent Didi Gregorius to New York in 2014. Ray’s 47 wins rank seventh in franchise history, and he is also third in strikeouts (998), fourth in games started (147) and sixth in innings pitched (793). His best season was 2017, when he went 15-5, led the American League with a 12.1 K/9 ratio (218 strikeouts in 162 innings) and earned his only All-Star selection to date. After being traded to Toronto in 2020, he won the Cy Young Award for the Blue Jays the following season.
3. Zack Greinke – Another pitcher who holds several spots on the all-time franchise lists, including fifth in both earned run average (3.40) and wins (55), seventh in both strikeouts (683) and games started (114) and ninth in innings pitched (714 2/3). Greinke made the All-Star team three times in his four seasons with Arizona, and he also won four gold gloves and a silver slugger award. His best season was in 2017, when he went 17-7 with 215 strikeouts in 202 1/3 innings and also made two postseason starts.
2. Brandon Webb – While it’s hard to say a player that ranks this high on a team’s list is underrated, Webb could have been even better if his career hadn’t been cut short by injuries. Webb ranks near the top in several categories on Arizona’s all-time list, including second in wins (87), innings (1,319 2/3), strikeouts (1,065), starts (198) and shutouts (8), third in complete games (15) and fourth in earned run average (3.27). Using a nasty sinkerball, Webb won the Cy Young Award with a 16-8 record in 2006 and finished second in each of the next two seasons (18-10 in 2007 and a league-leading 22-7 in 2008). He was a three-time All-Star and made two starts in the 2007 playoffs. Webb made his first start in 2009 but had shoulder issues, which turned out to be bursitis. He had two rotator cuff surgeries, but never pitched again.
1. Curt Schilling – Political views aside, Schilling has become known as a “big game pitcher.” Three years before the “bloody sock” game with the Red Sox against the Yankees in Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, he was leading the upstart Diamondbacks over the “Evil Empire” in the 2001 World Series. During the season, he had a league-best 22-6 record along with 293 strikeouts and NL highs in games started, complete games and innings pitched. Schilling got even better in the postseason, going 4-0 in six starts and earning World Series co-MVP honors after posting 26 strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA. The following season, he went 23-7 and finished second in the Cy Young voting for the second year in a row. Despite only playing four seasons with Arizona, Schilling ranks second in franchise history in complete games (18), third in ERA (3.14), wins (58) and shutouts (5), fifth in strikeouts (875) and seventh in innings pitched (781 2/3).
5. Omar Daal – An Expansion Draft pick from the Blue Jays, Daal spent three years with the Diamondbacks, compiling a 26-31 record, while making it onto the franchise rankings list with five complete games (tied for fifth) and two shutouts (tied for fourth). His best season was 1999, when he went 16-9 with a 3.65 ERA.
4. Brian Anderson – He was the team’s first Expansion Draft pick, and he finished with a 41-42 record over five seasons with Arizona. Anderson won a respectable 12 games for the team in their first season and appeared in five postseason games, including a start in the 2001 World Series.
3. Wade Miley – After a brief call-up in 2011, Miley made his mark the following year, earning an All-Star selection and finishing second (to Bryce Harper) in the National League Rookie of the Year voting after going 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA. In four years with Arizona, he went 38-35, and his 3.79 earned run average ranks eighth in team history.
2. Patrick Corbin – He went to a pair of All-Star Games and posted double-digit win totals three times in six seasons with Arizona. Overall, Corbin ranks third in starts (154) and innings pitched (945 2/3), fourth in wins (56) and strikeouts (897) and eighth in complete games (4) in franchise history. He signed with Washington in 2019 and won a title with the Nationals that season.
1. Randy Johnson – Along with Schilling, he was essential to the Diamondbacks winning the World Series in 2001. He went 5-1 in six appearances, with a gutsy relief win in Game 7 coming just one day after winning Game 6 as a starter. In addition to his postseason accolades, Johnson was a four-time All-Star who holds every major club pitching record including wins (118-62), starts (232), innings (1,630 1/3), strikeouts (2,077), complete games (38), shutouts (14) and earned run average (2.83).
In eight seasons with Arizona, he won at least 16 games five times, including a 24-5 mark in 2002 that is still the team record for most wins in a season. The “Big Unit” holds the top four single-season strikeout marks in franchise history, including an astonishing 372 in 2001. Johnson retired after spending the 2009 season with the Giants and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.
5. Matt Mantei – He was acquired from the Marlins in 1999 and had 22 saves in 30 games for the Diamondbacks over the final three months of the season. Mantei was one of those players who was good in alternate years, with a sub-3.00 ERA all three of his odd-numbered seasons and a mark well above 4.00 in three even-numbered years. His best season was 2003, when he had 29 saves, and he amassed 74 overall, which ranks third in team history.
4. Brad Ziegler – Ziegler appeared in 377 games, tied for the most in franchise history (with Andrew Chafin), and he finished his seven-year Diamondbacks career with a 22-12 record, a 2.57 earned run average and 62 saves. His best season was 2015, when he had 30 saves and a 1.85 ERA.
3. Byung-Hyun Kim – Kim had a decent career with Arizona but will be forever known for giving up home runs in consecutive games during the 2001 World Series. Thankfully for him, the Diamondbacks rallied to win the championship. Kim was solid during the 2001 regular season (19 saves and a 2.94 ERA) and the early playoff rounds (one hit allowed and three saves in four appearances). He followed his forgettable World Series with 36 saves, a 2.04 ERA and an All-Star selection in 2002. Overall, Kim had 70 saves in six seasons with Arizona, which sits fourth on the franchise list.
2. J.J. Putz – After a solid six-year stretch with Seattle in the early 2000s, Putz ended his 12-year career with four seasons in Arizona, posting a 2.81 earned run average. His 45 saves in 2011 and 32 the following year are both top five single-season marks, and his 83 overall saves are second-most in team history.
1. Jose Valverde – He started his career with five seasons with Arizona, amassing a franchise-best 98 saves, to go along with 253 games pitched (fourth-best in team history) and a 3.29 ERA. The at-times unpredictable Valverde had his best season in 2007, when he was named an All-Star, won the Rolaids Relief Award and both led the National League and set a team record with 47 saves. He made four appearances and had one save in the 2007 playoffs.
The next team to be featured will be the Atlanta Braves.
Other articles in the Diamondbacks series:
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