Much is made about the outfield logjam, lack of quality starting arms, the 3rd base experiment, the catcher offense gap, and even a potential upset at the SS position. However, many teams find themselves failing or succeeding based on the performance of the bullpen throughout the year. The 2010 Diamondbacks are a perfect example of a team with some potential, losing all hope around the 7th inning when the bullpen arms trot out onto the mound.
So, last year the Diamondbacks acquired Addison Reed to help be the anchor and a stabilizing force after JJ Putz ran into some injuries and reduced effectiveness with his splitter. The year for Addison started out with many saves, but he stumbled as the year went on. Early signs also showed reason for worry as Reed would give up many home runs even in the games he saved.
With the return of some important arms like Reynolds, Hernandez, and Hudson, combined with the move of Collmenter from long man to starter, what does the Diamondback bullpen look like?
As of right now the current ESPN depth chart shows as follows with their Spring Training numbers.
- Brad Ziegler - ERA 9.00, 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3.00 WHIP
- Oliver Perez - ERA 0.00, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, .50 WHIP
- Daniel Hudson - ERA 6.43, 7 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1.14 WHIP
- Randal Delgado - ERA 1.80, 10 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, .80 WHIP
- Evan Marshall - ERA 1.80, 5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1.20 WHIP
- Addison Reed - N/A (B league appearance only)
Some people outside looking in are:
- Matt Stites - N/A Elbow problems
- David Hernandez - N/A TJ Surgery recovery
- Matt Reynolds - N/A TJ Surgery recovery
- Andrew Chafin - ERA 6.75, 8 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 1.25 WHIP
- A.J. Schugel - ERA 9.0, 8 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 1.75 WHIP
- Vidal Nuno - ERA 9.0, 7 IP, 12 H, 7 ER, 1.86 WHIP
Understanding that this is all SSS.
3 people seem to stand out as a potential boon for the bullpen. Perez, Delgado, and Marshall.
The acquisition of Perez last year seems like it could really have paid off for the club. He was a solid bullpen guy last year ending the season with a 2.91 ERA giving up only 19 earned runs in 58.2 innings pitched. He might have been brought on as a LOOGY, but his solid performances against right handers has definitely earned him a spot for longer periods of time. In fact he was BETTER against righties by a large margin. 4.43 vs Lefties, 1.98 vs Righties.
Delgado may very well end up in the 5 man rotation, but moving him to the bullpen would seem like a smart move. His ERA of 4.87 last year came with 4 games started with 12 ER in only 16.1 innings pitched for those starts. His performance improved slightly coming out of the bullpen with 30 ER in 61.1 innings pitched. A need for a long man also factors into the equation with Delgado. Since Collmenter has been moved into the #1 slot in the rotation, someone will need to step up and fill that roll. Delgado seems like the most obvious choice having stretched out innings like a starter.
Evan Marshall may have made the play of the year last year after hitting Ryan Braun on June 17th. It led to several atta-boy's in the duggout as Ted Barrett told the right hander to take his glove and go home. Evan's numbers last year were fairly stable with a nice 2.75 ERA, and 15 earned runs in 49.1 innings pitched. Evan's numbers against both right and left handers would make any manager feel comfortable pulling him from the pen to face a batter. 2.45 ERA to lefties, 2.90 to righties. He proved especially solid pitching in away games giving up only 5 runs in 25.2 innings pitched.
The Not So Good (But we hope turn around)
The person who is probably the most concerning right now is Ziegler. The submariner was once the double play sensei, but after a microfracture in his left knee (planting leg) there are several questions about his effectiveness. Although his rehab seemed to go according to plan he hasn't been able to get the work in on the mound you would hope. The fact that he's a submariner could also play a part in his ability to regain his release point and arm strength.
There is no doubt it is trickier to get things right coming from the lower angle and hitting the strike zone. His walk rate suffered a little bit last year moving to 3.2 base on balls per 9 but his strike outs were impressive reaching a career high of 7.3 SO/9. The Diamondbacks hope to see that kind of success continue this year but laws of regression coupled with the injury don't seem to inspire much hope. His career average is 6.0 SO/9 and I believe this is a likely number for him to regress to.
The Wild Cards
I suspect 2 other people will have an impact in the bullpen at some point this year. David Hernandez and Matt Reynolds.
David just had his first bullpen session this week and is on track to be pitching for the Diamondbacks sometime around the All-Star break. David was showing signs of life last year during spring training with a 2.19 ERA and only 2 earned runs given up over 8 innings. Will he be able to return with the kind of effectiveness he showed in 2012 when he had a 2.5 ERA over 68 innings pitched and was in line for the closer spot? Or will he regress to his 2013 numbers where he gave up 31 runs over 62 innings?
Matt Reynolds would most likely fill in that LOOGY roll the Diamondbacks have been lacking for the last few years. Although Oliver Perez may be a lefty, his number suggest he's not your prototypical left handed reliever. In 2013 Matt Reynolds looked like all he needed was a change of scenery to become a dominant left-hander out of the pen. He was hitting his stride with a 1.98 ERA over 30 appearances. The year prior to that in Colorado he was struggling to keep a spot with the Rockies and had a 4.40 ERA with 71 appearances. Of all of the Kevin Towers acquisitions, Matt Reynolds seemed to be among the best picks. But unfortunately he too would be bitten by the TJ bug on June 9th of 2013. An oblique injury to start off spring training looked like it could derail his comeback, but he was able to get his first outing on March 10th of this year throwing for 2/3rds of an inning.
This leaves us with the biggest question of all, can we trust Addison Reed?
A 4.25 ERA and 28 earned runs over 59 innings is the 2nd worst record among the regular closers. His save percentage of 84.2% may be in the middle of the pack, but his home run percentage of 4.4% and his .47 Ground outs to Fly Outs seems to indicate Chase Field may not be the ballpark to fit his skills. His home and away splits seem to bare this out. His home ERA last year was 4.78 and his away ERA was 3.62. He also had more saves in away games, 20 vs 12.
This would all seem to indicate Reed would have a very short leash with the new management, but the question has to be asked, who would replace him? I think it's too early to tell if Reed will get yanked, and who his potential replacements could be. But being that he's a KT acquisition and the bullpen does appear to have some depth, we could see a move sooner than later depending on how the season starts.