And next year may include Greg Reynolds, who made his first big league start on Monday since giving up seven runs in 1 1/3 innings on July 4 against the Marlins.
That start was the culmination of a rough Major League stint for Reynolds. The second overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Reynolds went 2-6 with a 6.71 ERA with 24 walks and 18 strikeouts.
After pitching a dud on Independence Day, he was immediately optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he continued to work on his fundamentals with Sky Sox pitching coach Chuck Kniffin. The two focused on getting Reynolds' delivery back on line, reestablishing his downhill plane and throwing more strikes with his fastball.
"He's done that," Hurdle said. "The thing about Greg that I am impressed with is that he went down there to get better. He didn't go down there to be bitter."
Reynolds went 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in six starts with the Sky Sox. He also showed a significant improvement with his command, striking out 21 while yielding 13 walks.
Reynolds was recalled from Colorado Springs on Sept. 5, and in his first appearance, the 6-foot-7 right-hander struck out two and didn't surrender a run in a scoreless inning of relief against the Braves.
He started against the Padres on Monday, the same team he made his Major League debut against way back in May. He gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings that day. Hurdle said he hoped to see the work Reynolds put in with the Sky Sox pay off this time around.
"We'd like to see fastball command, first and foremost," Hurdle said. "Good, low strikes, and the ability to throw the changeup and the curveball in some offensive counts."
There's only 12 games left in the season, but Hurdle didn't rule out giving Reynolds another start if he showed improvement on Monday.
"The window of opportunity is limited," Hurdle said, "but we'd like to see if we can get him the ball a couple more times."
Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less