After a first half of the season defined by inconsistency, being designated for assignment and a stint in the minor leagues, Friday night signifies somewhat of a fresh start for Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Trevor Cahill.
The 26-year-old right-hander will be on the mound when the D-backs begin their post-All-Star break schedule against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field.
The start will be the first for Cahill since April 13, when he was shelled for six earned runs in just four innings in an 8-6 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Following that performance, Cahill was exiled to the bullpen, where he posted a 3.04 ERA in 15 relief appearances before being designated for assignment.
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson thinks the timing is right for Cahill to get back into the big league rotation.
"Well, he's been up to 100 pitches (in the minors) and we feel that it's time to bring him back right now," Gibson told Burns and Gambo Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "His control has not been as good as it was before he left here. We're hoping that he commands the ball better.
"I think, a lot of the time, Trevor tries to make the ball move too much when he gets ahead in the counts or he starts to get in favorable situations, but that's one of the things he went down and worked on. But we're hoping he throws the ball well -- it worked last year when he came back. We need him to throw well for us when he comes back this year."
In his four starts for the D-backs this season, Cahill struggled mightily, giving up 18 earned runs in 17.2 innings of work. His record was 0-4 with a 9.17 ERA and he lasted past the fourth inning just once. In other words, the leash was a short one for the former All-Star.
Will it be short again upon his return?
"That's to be determined," Gibson said. "We're looking forward to him coming out (Friday) and throwing a good game for us and hopefully he can string some games together for us.
"We really need him. The staff needs him. He has the ability, he's proved it in the past. We just need to get him on-track."
In seven minor league appearances, Cahill posted a 2-3 record with a 4.45 ERA, striking out 31 and walking 20 in 30.1 innings. Fans at Chase Field may notice his delivery has changed since they last saw him.
"He's made some minor mechanical adjustments so I think the more he throws, the more he'll get built up," Gibson said. "There were some games, he threw good for the first three innings and then kind of lost it. He didn't have his endurance, he hadn't started in awhile. I think, just now, he's starting to get built up.
"Those little adjustments that he's made should become more of a second nature, he shouldn't have as many things on his mind. I think he should throw the ball better."