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Diamondbacks Report Card: The B-Bullpen

The front part of the Arizona relief corps was weighed and, largely, not found wanting, a few weeks back by John B. But what of the rest of the bullpen? Were they as impressive?

Photo credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

If I wanted to sum up the B-bullpen in four words, they would be "Gone, and largely forgotten." A dozen arms outside the A-bullpen of Putz, Hernandez and Ziegler were used last season: only Josh Collmenter appears likely to figure in the plans for 2013. Where are the others now? In order of innings pitched:

  • Bryan Shaw: Cleveland, part of the Bauer trade
  • Mike Zagurski: non-tendered, signed with Pittburgh
  • Craig Breslow: traded to Boston for Albers
  • Brad Bergesen: non-tendered
  • Matt Albers: Cleveland, part of the Bauer trade
  • Takashi Saito: free agent
  • Matt Lindstrom: option declined
  • Jonathan Albaladejo: non-tendered
  • Joe Paterson: Chairman on Occupy Reno
  • Sam Demel: taken off waivers by Houston
  • Joe Martinez: non-tendered

Paterson is perhaps worth a bit more comment. He was rock-solid in 2011, but truly awful at the start of 2012. And I mean, historic levels: no pitcher in baseball had ever had a season where they allowed 15 hits while recording less than 15 outs. Paterson did it while retiring just eight batters. But he was decent enough with Reno - a 4.15 ERA compared to a team average of 4.87. However, when you get passed over as a left-handed reliever for Mike Zagurski, you've clearly pissed someone off very badly. With Matt Reynolds and Tony Sipp now on the roster, I hope Paterson likes the food at the Peppermill.

Shaw certainly got his work in, and I was surprised to see how low his ERA ended up. It certainly didn't feel like it was below 3.50, but that was probably because he struggled mightily in 19 games that involved Shaw's use in high-leverage situations this season, opponents hitting .357 there. The other performance of note was Josh Collmenter, who went in the footsteps traced by Barry Enright in 2010-11, following up a surprisingly-good season as a starter with a sucky one next time up [hopefully, Wade Miley can escape a similar fate in 2013]. However, unlike Barry, Josh avoided Reno, by being really good in relief:

Split            ERA   IP  H  R ER HR BB SO  WHIP SO/9
as Starter      5.11 56.1 59 34 32 11 14 48 1.296  7.7
as Reliever     1.32 34.0 33  5  5  2  8 32 1.206  8.5

Trading away Craig Breslow didn't seem to make make a lot of sense to me: he was a very reliable left-hander, and the move left us with Zagurski. He had already been labeled by Clefo - we'll get to that below - as a result of Big Z's tendency to turn up, as an admission of surrender by Kirk Gibson, and his performances became a running sore joke for fans over the rest of the year. Our contingent of apparent ex-pat Scandinavians, Bergesen, Albers and Lindstrom, made little no impression on me to speak of, and Saito wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement of signing Japanese players, having more calf problems than your average Texas ranch.

As noted above, hardly any of them are likely to trouble us again in 2013. Instead, there will be a whole new set of names to wince about. Currently, the back end of the Diamondbacks 'pen will be populated by Heath Bell, two left-handers in Sipp and Reynolds, and Collmenter. There's also the possibility of Rule 5 pick Starlin Peralta being stuffed away somehow, though there's no obvious spot for him. Bell is going to be extremely well-paid, and I'm not sure if his usage can justify it, since the high-leverage innings appear largely covered. He may see some work when JJ and DHern are pooped-out, but he'll also need to show the start of 2012 was an aberration.

I'm curious to see what happens with our southpaws, and how Gibson will react to an apparent abundance of riches in this department, compared to previous years, at least. I am concerned about Sipp, who is a severe fly-ball pitcher, without the K-rate which can mitigate that [as happened with Hernandez this year], and in the unlikely event Kirk is interested in my advice, I'd lean towards using Reynolds in those high-leverage situations. Collmenter will be the long-relief guy, and may end up getting a spot start or two, if we don't want to shuttle someone down from Reno.

It's obviously tough to provide an overall grade for such a disparate group, but if you ignore the ones who pitched three innings or less, most of the rest did put up decent numbers overall: Of the remaining eight, only Zagurski and Saito had ERAs above the 2012 MLB average for relievers (3.67), and several - Breslow, Albers, Lindstrom and Collmenter, were sub-three out of the bullpen. That's good by any standards, especially when your home games are played at Chase. If they had their issues now and again, they were a significant factor why the 'pen had the best ERA in franchise history, at 3.28. That's almost two and a half runs better than it was in 2010... Grade: B-

Clefo - C. I was ready to give this more or less inoffensive group a B or thereabouts, but then the name "MIKE ZAGURSKI" kept popping out there, like a constantly springing Jack in the Box that scares the bejesus out of you. While guys like Saito and Paterson and the totally easy to spell Albaladejo weren't great, it was in limited time. Mike Zagurski, known as Die Vererbte Zerstörung to the Bavarians around the middle ages, always carried an impending sense of doom when he came in with runners on base. As such, he wrecks the curve.

soco - C. Mike Zagurski, he's gonna wreck it! Most of the numbers aren't terrible above (Paterson's is certainly skewed from such little usage), but Zagurski might be key to why the B Bullen was average at best. It's not so much that he wasn't very good, it's that he was used a lot and wasn't very good. To make matters worse, he had one of the lowest Average Leveraged Index rates in the bullpen (.49, which means an incredibly non-leverage situation), so it's not like he was just being put into bad situations. He was being used as mop-up and still didn't do great. Also, 39% of the runners he inherited he would allow to score. Blech.