MLB: AZ Diamondbacks Relief Pitchers
The Diamondbacks recent road trip saw them visit three different cities; New York, Denver and San Francisco. They came away with a 4-5 record on that trip. It should have been a more successful trip after having leads in several of those games. Their starting pitching was good against the Yankees and again against the Rockies, including giving up no more than four runs in any of those games in CO.
Coors Field in Colorado is known as one of the best hitters’ fields, so the Diamondback starters did their job. However the Diamondbacks lost 2 out of 3 in Colorado. The Diamondbacks came back nicely in San Francisco against the Giants by taking two of three to close out the 9 game road trip. There is one major issue that stood out about this road trip, it was that the bullpen, regarded as the strength of the team, needs to gets its act together quickly if the Diamondbacks want to be a playoff challenger in the National League.
Even though the series win at San Francisco was much needed, giving up leads in the 8th inning or later in every single game is disturbing. Matt Reynolds saved both games against the Giants, but that is not the way this team should be winning games. Reynolds has been outstanding. He has not allowed a run in his twelve appearances this year. He is very familiar with the National League West division and has been a workhorse for the last couple seasons, so hopefully the Diamondbacks can look forward to that continuing.
Heath Bell, after his initial terrible outing, has pitched well. The veteran right-hander has permitted just one run over his past seven appearances to trim his ERA to 4.50 while sporting a 2-0 record. Bell has also regained his stellar strikeout form, collecting 15 strikeouts against just one walk.
Brad Ziegler has been stellar as well, until Monday night when he walked 2 batters and gave up 2 hits leading to the go ahead runs. Ziegler had appeared in 14 games prior to Monday night, the most in baseball, so that may have contributed to his bad outing.
The Diamondbacks will use Josh Collmenter in a swing role during the season. He could prove to be useful as an occasional starter and long relief. He seems to be effective in outings where the opposing lineup only gets an at-bat or two against him. But he has pitched very well in 14 innings.
Left hander Tony Sipp has been decent so far. He has lowered his ERA to 3.12 in twelve games. Sipp will be counted on to pitch more than an inning a game.
The next two guys are the ones who have had the issues:
J.J. Putz has three blown saves already this season and two of those spoiled the splendid starts by Patrick Corbin. Putz has already given up two home runs and issued seven walks in twelve innings of work. Manager Kirk Gibson has indicated Putz will remain the Diamondbacks’ closer. He will get better. Putz tends to starts off slow, but the Diamondbacks need better outings from him.
The last guy to look at is David Hernandez. Even in the 2013World Baseball Classic (WBC) he did not look like the Hernandez of the past. The WBC took place at the start of Spring Training, which caused some players to need more time to get going, but Hernandez’ 2013 start has not been easy on anyone, including the fans. He gave up the game tying home run in the 9th inning in NY on the last road trip. Three home runs, four walks and thirteen hits in 12 innings of work are a little worrisome. You can only hope that Hernandez’ struggles are short-lived
We know the bullpen has been “spent” and everyone has pitched more innings than Gibson would like them to have this early in the season, but there is plenty of time for this group of guys to get it fixed, starting right now while they are at home and during the three game trip to San Diego and then three games against Los Angeles. I hope to see you at the Ballpark.