• The battle for the fifth starter job will come down to Dana Eveland and Greg Smith, both prospects who were acquired in the Dan Haren deal. Smith appeared to take the lead in the battle with a nice start earlier in the week, but Eveland answered emphatically in the outing I saw on Wednesday, striking out seven in five shutout innings of work, walking none.
Eveland is a southpaw who has always been an intriguing pitcher for me, from both scouting and statistical perspectives. He has a good track record in the minors, but hasn't ever been able to carry that to the next level in three short big league stints over the past three seasons. If you watch him pitch, you see that he has a good four-pitch repertoire, primarily a fastball/curveball combination. He has drawn comparisons to David Wells in the past both for his build (he had a weight problem in the past that appears to be under control now), but also for his raw stuff and pitching style.
Eveland has battled trying to carry his command and control to the big league level, but at age 24, may finally be ready to settle in and establish himself, if Wednesday's outing is any indication. His curve was a true out pitch, and he was able to get D-backs batters to swing and miss, and also freeze them by dropping it into the zone with two strikes. Eveland's past big league stints have been plagued by a lack of aggressiveness and confidence in his stuff, but he's had both of those in the two outings I've seen this spring.
Pitching in March is a lot different than pitching in April, but Eveland should firmly be on your sleeper list in AL-only leagues.
Smith has also not faced much adversity against minor league hitters, succeeding at each level he's pitched at in his three professional seasons, including a solid performance at the past Arizona Fall League. Smith's raw stuff isn't as good as Eveland's, but he's more polished overall. He rarely tops 90, but he throws four legitimate pitches, mixes them well, and keeps the ball down in the strike zone and in the ballpark. None of his stuff is plus, leading to some questions as to whether or not he's going to ultimately be too hittable to stick in a rotation in the major leagues. If I had my choice, I prefer Eveland for the better upside, but I would also take a flier on Smith in an AL league if he wins the job.
by Jason Grey-ESPN