D-backs assistant GM: Taylor Clarke showed poise in debut as starter

Taylor Clarke had been scuffed up quite a bit this season as a minor league pitcher. In a way, previous performances of less-than-clean results might’ve helped him in his debut as an Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher on Tuesday.

Tampa Bay Rays leadoff man Brandon Lowe gave his team a 1-0 lead off Clarke’s first pitch, but the D-backs front office liked the recovery — and Clarke’s overall outing in a 6-3 defeat.

“Obviously the poise he showed last night (impressed),” Arizona assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “He got clipped on the first pitch and then obviously settled down, kept them off balance, gave us a really strong start. They’re scrappy and they can drive the ball, they can do a lot of really good things in the lineup.

“He navigated through a lineup that, it’s first place in the AL East. I was really impressed with everything with his four pitches.”

Clarke went 6.0 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits with two strikeouts and no walks. After his second MLB outing — Clarke threw three scoreless frames out of the bullpen a few weeks back — he has flashed a well-controlled 94 mph fastball and four-pitch mix. His success might be surprising considering the 25-year-old’s struggles so far in Triple-A Reno.

Over five appearances in the Pacific Coast League, Clarke has a 6.12 ERA as opponents have hit .276 against him.

But playing in a league where the offense is aplenty and with four of those starts at Reno’s offense-injecting Greater Nevada Field has perhaps helped Clarke prepare for taking it one pitch at a time.

“… Reno prepares you for some of this because you can get clipped in Reno pretty easily,” Sawdaye said. “In the PCL, the ball is flying out this year. I think again, it goes back to the preparation in the minor leagues.

“We knew Taylor has the stuff to compete in the big leagues and has the strike-throwing ability and won’t back down, and I think he showed that last night.”