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Diamondbacks Bullpen Revamped

Pausing from my review of Stone, a moral tale about the dangers of having sex with Milla Jovovich [so that's why Mrs. SnakePit Tivo'd it...], to update our earlier post on the rumor that Yhency Brazoban had been promoted to the 25-man roster from Reno. It now looks like he has been joined on the bus from Reno by left-handed reliever Alberto Castillo. The men getting sent down to make room for them are Esmerling Vasquez and Bryan Shaw.

After holding their own in April and May, the Diamondbacks bullpen had been showing signs of strain recently. Their June ERA of 5.71 was ranked 15th in the National League, ahead of only the Cardinals (6.24). Just about everyone in their had been struggling: the only two arms with a June ERA below 4.90 were Micah Owings and, ironically, the demoted Shaw, though he had only worked four-plus innings since being called up. So it seems the team decided some new blood was in order. Whether the 31-year old Brazoban or 35-year old Castillo quite qualify, is an entirely separate topic.

Castillo is quite a story. He was a third-round draft pick by the Giants, but it took almost fourteen years for him to reach the majors. He spent a lot of time in the baseball wilderness a.k.a. the independent Atlantic League, occasionally getting invites to spring training, but was unable to crack a roster until April 2008 with Baltimore. He faced and retired one batter in his major-league debut, but still got the W, before being sent back to the minors for a couple more months. Between then and 2010, he appeared in 62 games for the Orioles, posting a 4.81 ERA.

Alberto had a minor-league contract with Baltimore for the 2011 season, but didn't make the roster in spring training, and exercised the opt-out clause in his deal with them on June 15. He signed with the Diamondbacks and had appeared in five games with Reno before getting the call. Overall, in Triple-A this year he had worked 25 games, throwing 39.1 innings and posting a 1.83 ERA with a K:BB ratio of 35:11. Nick Piecoro tweets that Castillo "throws a fastball, slider, change from multiple angles & can be tough for lefties. Sits in mid-to-upper 80s."

Brazoban is a blast from the past: he has thrown a total of less than ten innings in the majors since the 2005 season, and was last seen here as a Dodger in May 2008. He was the closer in Los Angeles for a while in 2005, saving 21 games while Eric Gagne was injured, but after that, his career was derailed by injury - he underwent Tommy John surgery the following year, and hasn't appeared in more than a handful of games in any season since. He spent the early part of 2010 in the Mexican League, before getting a minor-league deal with the Mets, though never got called up from Triple-A.

The 2011 pattern was similar to Castillo, with Brazoban getting a minor-league deal with the Rangers, not making the team for Opening Day, and opting out to sign with Arizona. He played eight games with the Aces, and overall, produced a 3.22 ERA in 23 innings and 36.1 innings [which suggests he is capable of going more than a single inning if necessary], with a 42:14 K:BB ratio. One area of concern is his fly-ball tendencies, while we don't have data past 2008, his overall GB/FB ratio is 0.55 (MLB average is 0.79). He has also allowed six homers in those 36.1 minor-league innings.

It is a little surprising to see these moves, especially given that Sam Demel is likely nearing the end of his rehab assignment, with Juan Gutierrez perhaps a week or so further down the pipe. That suggests these may be short-term assignments, unless the team has reason to think Demel and/or Gutierrez will not be ready for longer than expected. I can't say Brazoban excites me, as his numbers weren't brilliant five years ago, and I can't imagine he has improved since. Castillo's minor lines were pretty good, however, so hopefully he can convert those into decent work with the D-backs.