By Greg Dillard
Since making his Major League debut on April 17, D-backs right-hander Josh Collmenter has looked good in relief.
He will now get a chance to continue his strong pitching as a starter.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson tabbed Collmenter to start Saturday’s game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. He will be opposed on the mound by Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley, who is 2-2 with a 3.91 ERA in this season.
In seven appearances with the big league club, Collmenter has thrown 14 innings with a 1.29 ERA, 11 strikeouts and just one walk.
“He’s done well in that capacity,” Gibson said. “I think ultimately he is our best option.”
Collmenter has surrendered just eight hits, and two earned runs as a reliever. Those runs came in his April 24 outing against the Mets. Otherwise, he has held opponents scoreless in his other six outings.
The right-hander began the 2011 season at Triple-A Reno where he made one start. In that game, Collmenter allowed just two hits and one earned run in six innings to earn the win.
While he’s been a reliever during his short stint with the D-backs, Collmenter is not short on starting experience.
“He’s been a starter really his whole career,” Gibson said. “He’s been successful everywhere he’s gone. He throws strikes.”
Collmenter was a 15th round draft pick by the D-backs in the 2007 amateur draft. Throughout his five seasons in the D-backs’ minor league system, he has notched 41 wins with a 3.50 ERA. He made 94 appearances, with 92 coming as a starter.
In 515 innings pitched, Collmenter fanned 472 opposing batters to average 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Collmenter pitches with a unique delivery, throwing directly over the top. He boasts a solid fastball and an excellent changeup to go with a developing curveball.
“I don’t think people view him as having overpowering stuff, but everywhere he’s been, he gets people out,” Gibson said. “He locates the ball pretty well, and that’s certainly a key to his three pitches. He’s very deceptive.”
Collmenter takes the place of Barry Enright in the D-backs’ starting rotation. Enright was optioned to Triple-A Reno last week after posting a 6.49 ERA in six starts this season.
This weekend’s series marks the first time the D-backs and Dodgers will face off in 2011. Saturday’s matchup is slated to begin at 4:10 p.m. The Dodgers’ first games at Chase Field won’t happen until after the All-Star Game, July 15-17.