Some argue the Diamondbacks gave right-hander Allen Webster too much rope and others contend the right-hander may have been injured during spring training.
In any case, Webster, acquired with righty Rubby De La Rosa last winter from the Boston Red Sox in the Wade Miley deal, showed prolonged periods of inconsistency and unpredictability throughout the spring.
By the end of March, the Diamondbacks cut bait, and Webster was dispatched to Triple-A Reno with explicit instructions.
“In a start against the Giants, he showed the stuff for which we traded for him,” manager Chip Hale said at the end of spring training. “He has major league stuff, but needs to repeat that on a consistent basis. We hope he can do that at Reno.”
The game Hale referenced was an outing on March 17. In a contest won by the Diamondbacks, Webster pitched four innings, allowed three hits, no runs, walked none and struck out two batters.
That was considered his only strong appearance of the spring, and Webster then went south. In five spring appearances, Webster was 0-1, sported an 8.18 ERA, and allowed 10 runs in 11 innings.
Dropped from rotation consideration and banished to Reno, Webster set out on a path to recovery.
On Friday night, he received that call to The Show and informed he would start Saturday’s game against the Giants in AT&T Park.
In replacing Josh Collmenter in the rotation, Webster arrived back in the majors with an undistinguished record of 1-2 and an ERA of 9.00. In his first two appearance of the season at Reno, Webster sported a 19.29 ERA and eventually landed on the disabled list with shoulder fatigue.
At this point, the Diamondbacks believe Webster recovered sufficiently to make a contribution at the major league level.
With Collmenter winless since beating the Rockies on May 5, and emerging as one of the top pitchers in the National League for allowing home runs, Arizona decision-makers decided to move the native of Homer, Mich, to the bullpen for a period of soul-searching and recovery.
In the meantime, team general manager Dave Stewart rolled the dice and Webster emerged.
In starting Saturday against the Giants, Webster did not show signs of a difficult start in the minors. Throwing a no-hitter until Joe Panik slammed a one-out double in the sixth, Webster eventually allowed two runs, two hits, walked three and fanned two batters.
By holding the Giants hitless into the sixth inning, Webster’s effort equaled Chase Anderson’s start Friday night against the San Francisco. Anderson did not allow a hit until the seventh.
The last time the Diamondbacks had back-to-back games in which a pitcher carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning was May 4 and 5, 2000. That’s when Armando Reynoso had a no-hitter through 5.0 innings on May 4 and Randy Johnson had a no-hitter through 5.0 innings on May 5.
While a call to The Show is welcomed, Webster also experienced a period of anxiety.
“I was still trying to feel it out and I’m not going to lie, I definitely had the jitters,” Webster told MLB.com. “When I came back in the dugout, (catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia) was able to settle me down and we got out there and got in a good rhythm together. We just rolled with it.”
If Hale keeps Webster in the rotation, he would likely go again next Thursday afternoon at home against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
For Saturday, Webster picked up the win, a 4-2 victory over San Francisco, and advanced his overall major league career mark to 7-5 in 19 career starts between Arizona and Boston.
To make room for Webster on the 25-man roster, the Diamondbacks designated reliever J. C. Ramirez for assignment. In 12 appearances for Arizona this season, Ramirez was 1-1 with a 4.11 ERA.