MLB: AZ Diamondbacks Long Relief Pitching
Over the last few years the Arizona Diamondbacks have needed to rely on and have had good luck with their long relief pitchers. Their long relief pitchers have been able to eat up innings either through long relief assignments or with random spot start.
Sometimes a team’s long reliever is a former starter who has lost his effectiveness and is looking to get that back. But, most long relievers are inexperienced pitchers, who have the potential to become starters or setup pitchers. They need to have the mental and physical ability to be called upon early in a game, due to an injury to or ineffectiveness of a starting pitcher, if the game goes into extra innings or if there is a long rain delay.
Josh Collmenter was that “go-to” guy until he became a fulltime starter last season. The Diamondbacks’ current long relief pitcher is Randall Delgado who has settled into that role after being both a starter and a setup pitcher. Delgado throws five pitches; a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a curveball, a changeup, and an occasionally a slider. He has already been in 21 games this season and finished eight of those games. Delgado did struggle in the middle of May, but over his last seven games has an ERA of 1.80.
Should a team have two long relievers on their roster? For the Diamondbacks the answer is most likely, yes, due to the starting staff’s inability to pitch past the fifth or sixth inning and to avoid fatigue for Delgado.
Andrew Chafin might be the guy to consider for the long reliever role. The left hander has been in 28 games and has won four of those games. His four seam-fastball generates groundball outs, which is needed at Chase Field. He will not over power you with his pitches, but with his different pitch selections, he keeps hitters guessing.
Let’s hope the Diamondbacks find a solution quickly to their starting rotation and bullpen issues.
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