You saw this coming like high noon in Phoenix. A young Diamondbacks pitcher breaking out was the inevitable sum of another numbers game.
Maybe Wade Miley would catapult from his second-place NL Rookie of the Year finish last season into stardom. Maybe Trevor Bauer would drizzle some aptitude over his platter of plus pitches and become the ace evaluators foresaw. Maybe Tyler Skaggs would grow into his lanky frame and a front-line rotation job simultaneously.
Arizona likely wasn't getting all of that in 2013, but it surely was getting one of the three. Patrick Corbin? Just another guy with a 4.54 ERA and a modest ceiling.
Then Bauer was shipped to Cleveland last winter, Skaggs was shipped to Triple-A Reno this spring and Corbin slithered back into Arizona's rotation behind Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy and Miley. Soon, Corbin would be the young pitcher altering projections within the organization.
"Patrick's done a great job for us," Billy Ryan, Arizona's assistant GM, said. "He's a very competitive kid, and while he's always been confident, you could see a difference in him when he showed up to camp this year. He was determined to win a spot in our rotation and certainly earned it."
Corbin has a 1.80 ERA in 40 innings and has positioned himself to make a significant impact in Arizona's playoff chances. He leads our list of non-aces who could swing division races this season.