Randall Delgado figures to have two more starts in order to prove he belongs in the Braves' starting rotation. The 22-year-old looks to flash the form today that has made him one of the game's top prospects as Atlanta concludes a four-game series against former 21-game winner Ian Kennedy and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Delgado cracked the Braves' starting five to begin the season partially due to Tim Hudson opening up the campaign on the disabled list following back surgery. Hudson, though, is nearing a return and Delgado could be the odd-man out despite a decent 2-0 record and 4.35 earned run average through his first two starts of the season.
"He's pitched good enough for me, and that's what he needs to keep doing," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told his club's website. "If he's the one to go down, then we're going to need him again. There are not very many rotations, if any, that go intact the whole year. So there is an option for him to go down."
Delgado will try to make Gonzalez's decision a tough one in his first career start against the Diamondbacks.
The right-hander opened his season with a win at Houston on April 11, allowing two runs over five innings while fanning six. Delgado then beat the Mets six days later, getting charged with three runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts over 5 1/3 frames.
Delgado faces a tough challenge today in countering Kennedy, who has won six straight decisions dating back to last season and 15 of his last 16.
Coming off a career year, the 27-year-old righty won his first two starts of 2012 before struggling a bit in a no-decision against the Pirates on Tuesday. Kennedy yielded four runs on eight hits over six innings, striking out five without a walk in a game his club lost 5-4. Arizona, though, lost more than the game as outfielder Chris Young suffered his shoulder injury that landed him on the disabled list after crashing into the wall making a catch.
Kennedy has a 2.03 ERA in two career meetings with the Braves without a decision and will look to help his club avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of Atlanta and a sixth straight loss overall.
The Braves won their sixth in a row over the Diamondbacks on Saturday, earning a 3-2 win behind Tommy Hanson's seven innings of two-run ball. Martin Prado and Chipper Jones each drove in a run while Dan Uggla's solo homer in the third proved to be the winner.
"At the end of the year, I think we will be known for our pitching, that's what has been the constant here in the Atlanta Braves organization," said Gonzalez. "We got a bunch of pennants up in the stadium of ours, most of the that the common denominator in that is good pitching and good defense."
Jason Kubel hit a solo homer and Miguel Montero drove in a run for the Diamondbacks. Joe Saunders gave up three runs -- two earned -- on six hits over seven innings to take the loss.
"I felt good, the first inning again was a little dicey and I just tried to minimize the damage," said Saunders. "I gave up that home run to Uggla and that was kind of the difference, especially against a team like that, you get to their bullpen that's going to be real tough. We played our butts off tonight and just came up one run short."
Atlanta has won 10 of 11 since an 0-4 start. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, have lost eight of 11 after beginning the season with four straight wins.