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Scott McGough Has Up-Down First Season in Arizona

This is Scott McGough’s Diamondbacks 2023 Player Review article. This article is part of a series of player reviews for the 2023 Arizona Diamondbacks. It was a surprising and marvelous year for the team as they won 84 games to make the postseason. They advanced all the way to Game Five of the World Series before bowing out to the Texas Rangers.

There are 54 players in all that had at least one at-bat or pitched at least one inning for the team this past season. They are being presented in reverse order of their aWAR (average WAR-Wins Above Replacement) produced, which is the average of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs WAR. These are their season stories.

The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Scott McGough out of Japan with the hopes he would become a late-inning reliever. That worked more or less this season, especially in the beginning. Fresh off the heels of being a dominant closer in Japan in which McGough recorded 80 saves in 232.2 innings with 251 strikeouts. He served as the first closer in the committee that Manager Torey Lovullo was forced to use in the first half of the season.

From Opening Day to July 8th, McGough boasted a strong 2.72 ERA and 3.36 FIP with seven saves in 40 games and 46.1 innings. Over that span, he pitched 1+ innings 16 times. He was a critical part of the D-backs bullpen. He had 17 walks and 57 strikeouts during that time. McGough was a trusted arm of Lovullo’s that was able to work any kind of scenario that was thrown at him.

Unfortunately for him and the D-backs, McGough soon became home run prone. Following the All-Star break, the right-handed reliever endured a series of struggles. From July 15th to September 14th, 23 outings, McGough pitched to a rough 8.63 ERA and 7.46 FIP. Opponents were hitting .314 off of him. During this span, he gave up nine home runs. 

Scott McGough was still striking out batters at a strong rate with 29 strikeouts in 24 innings. However, he was walking more batters with 13 of them in such a short time span. This coupled with the issue of the home runs made his ERA spike over two full runs. His final outing was on September 14th against the Mets when he gave up three runs in just 0.2 innings.

The following day, McGough was placed on the 15-day Injured List with a season-ending Shoulder Inflammation injury. While the cause was not truly revealed, it’s believed to just be due to overuse. There was not any concern for the shoulder injury to affect McGough’s ability to pitch next season. Unfortunate for him was the fact that he missed the chance to pitch in the playoffs and the World Series.

2024 Status and Outlook

Scott McGough is penciled into the Arizona Diamondbacks plans for the 2024 roster and season. That’s because he’s under contract next season for a very reasonable $3 MM salary. This will be his age-34 season and it remains to be seen if he can hold up to an entire MLB season. Still, the D-backs will be relying on McGough to do what he did this year in the first half of the season. If he can do that, the Diamondbacks will have another strong right-handed reliever. 

Next season is likely to be the last for McGough in a D-backs uniform. That’s because he has a mutual option for 2025 at $4 MM with a 750K buy-out. Mutual options are rarely exercised because it requires both the team and player to agree to the same amount of money. If McGough does well then he will want more than the amount in the option. If he does poorly, then the D-backs will not want to give him that amount. However, one thing is certain and that’s the fact that the team will need Scott McGough healthy and performing to repeat last year’s bullpen success. 

Source: FanNation