Collmenter makes case to remain starter

Righty allows one run in eight innings of loss to NL Central champions

Collmenter makes case to remain starter

PHOENIX -- Right up until 15 minutes before first pitch, it seemed like Sunday's D-backs-Cardinals game might just play a role in deciding how the National League Central race finished up.

But then the Reds beat the Pirates, clinching the Central for the Cardinals, and suddenly the game -- won by St. Louis, 1-0 -- had the feel of a Spring Training game.

Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, who was scheduled to start, stopped warming in the bullpen and St. Louis manager Mike Matheny made multiple changes to his lineup, taking out a lot of his veterans to give them some rest before the NL Division Series begins Friday.

No one apparently told Josh Collmenter that the game no longer mattered, as the right-hander turned in eight impressive innings, allowing the one run on three hits while striking out three.

However, the D-backs' offense got an early jump on the offseason as it struggled to do much against five Cardinals pitchers.

The Cardinals broke the scoreless tie when Pete Kozma led off the sixth with a double and eventually scored on Kolten Wong's groundout.

Collmenter started the season in the bullpen before injuries and struggles of other starters forced him into the rotation.

After a tough start in mid-August against the Marlins, there was talk that Collmenter might be fatigued, but he finished the season with seven strong starts.

"I just wanted to finish the season strong," Collmenter said. "There was talk about possibly shutting me down or trying to curtail my innings a little bit. Then I think once we had some management changes, that kind of got thrown out the window and I think they wanted to see what I could do."

Collmenter was a starter for the D-backs in 2011 and part of 2012 before being shifted to a long-relief role.

While he never complained, he also never lost the desire to start, something he hopes might be in his future again.

"Personally I enjoy starting," Collmenter said. "Hopefully I've proven this to the new guys and we'll see what the front office does. I'll plan as always to be a starter, and if not, I'll be able to handle a lot of innings next year."

With the loss, the last-place D-backs finished the season with a 64-98 record, the second-most losses in franchise history behind the 2004 team, which lost 111. That was also the last year the D-backs finished at the bottom of the standings.

In fact, Arizona finished with the worst record in baseball and therefore will pick first in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft.

The season, which started with a pair of regular-season games against the Dodgers in Australia on March 22 and 23, was a disappointment for a team that opened with the highest payroll in team history at $110 million.

The results also ended up costing general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson their jobs.

"It was a tough season all along," Collmenter said, "especially getting off to a bad start. We played some pretty good ball there through the middle. Some key injuries, we were constantly battling that. Now it's a chance to rebuild, look back on a lot of the positives -- we had a lot of young guys come up and play some huge roles, and that's exciting going forward."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.