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Ranking the Diamondbacks bullpen: The SnakePit speaks

We asked, you answered. How did you rank the returning candidates for our 2017 relief corps?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

While there was a moderate degree of consensus over the rotation, that certainly wasn't the case with regard to the bullpen, and results were all over the place. I've a feeling this is probably the result of general dissatisfaction with the current crop of potential, "in house" 2017 relievers. From other discussions, it seems fans generally want this area to be strengthened through free-agent signings (and, perhaps to a lesser extent, trades), with Brad Ziegler, Daniel Hudson etc added to the roster. There's also the possibility of one or more starters moving over, such as Rubby De La Rosa, and maybe even help from prospects such as Jimmy Sherfy or Jared Miller (up to 18.1 scoreless AFL innings now!).

But as for the current incumbents, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm and no agreement. 11 of the 15 candidates received at least one first-place vote - though I was pleased to see we were all taking this seriously, and nobody trolled the poll with Dominic Leone at #1. Perhaps even more startlingly, seven pitchers received at least one first-place and at least one last-place vote, though in at least one case (which we'll get to in a bit), there were tactical reasons for the latter. This helped lead to an unusual situation, where the top-ranked pitcher didn't get the most first-place votes. Let's break down the results a bit further.

Jake Barrett made a pretty good impression for a rookie, posting a 126 ERA+ while appearing in 68 games - he didn't allow an earned run in 56 of those. Of course, I'd recommend caution, since we've seen plenty of relievers who looked great their first season, only to suffer a sophomore slump - going back at least to Joe Paterson. Jake averaged a 2.5 pick, which was the highest overall figure, and was selected to the bullpen i.e. ranked in the top seven, on all but two ballots. However, he was fractionally edged out for most first-place votes by...

Patrick Corbin, a.k.a. The Corbin Conundrum. A number of low votes countered Corbin's leading number of #1 selections, likely a result of uncertainty as to whether he should be part of the rotation or the bullpen. His value would be higher as a starting pitcher, obviously; but there are good reasons he was moved to relief, culminating in the nine hits over 1.2 innings he allowed at Fenway in August. Over his last nine relief appearances, covering 19 innings, he had a K:BB of 22:6, with an ERA of 0.95. But does that mean he's "fixed" as a starter? We'll see...

Andrew Chafin is another reliever who, like Hudson, had a brutal stretch of outings, but fingers crossed, has turned the corner. After a 2.79 April ERA, Chafin made 11 appearances in May, allowing 14 earned runs in only 7.1 innings. That got him sent down to Reno, but after his return mid-June, he made nine consecutive appearances without allowing a hit, tying the franchise record (later on, Barrett broke it with 11 straight). However, shoulder tendinitis ended his season, so health will be the first thing he needs to prove in spring.

After these three, there's a sharp drop-off to the next tier, voted to the back of the bullpen with average ranks in the sixes and sevens: Randall Delgado, Enrique Burgos, Zack Godley and Silvino Bracho. They all had their moments this year, but struggled to achieve the consistency necessary to be considered as reliable options. Kinda weird to realize both Delgado and Burgos were born in 1990, given Randall has become one of the longest-serving D-backs [among players definitely under team control for 2017, only Corbin, Goldie and A.J. Pollock pre-date him] Bracho was particularly disappointing this season, his K-rate dropping sharply, perhaps why Burgos is preferred in the poll.

And the field... Everyone else thereafter is a mixed bag of question-marks, perhaps potential, issues of health, etc. A bit surprised Koch wasn't ranked higher, but he may be seen more as a starter than a relief option [he was exclusively a 2016 starter in the minors, and that's how ended the season for Arizona, with a couple of decent starts]. Sad to see Marshall down there: his return to baseball was a great story, but since his rookie season in 2014, his performances at the major-league level haven't been there (7.53 ERA over 28 relief appearances). And in other news, Dominic Leone still occupies a 40-man roster spot, despite the highest ERA for any D-back with 30+ innings pitched since Eddie Oropesa in 2002-03.

Below, is a table listing the 15 candidates, the average ranking and the highest, most common and lowest slot in which they were placed by voters.

Player Rank High Most - % Low
Jake Barrett
1 1 - 35% 11
Patrick Corbin
1 1 - 36% 15
Andrew Chafin
4.2 1 3/4 - 18% 11
Randall Delgado
1 6/7 - 14% 15
Enrique Burgos
6.2 1
5 - 19% 14
Zack Godley
7.0 1 7 - 17% 15
Silvino Bracho
7.5 1
8 - 14% 15
Matt Koch 8.1 1 11 - 21% 13
Zac Curtis
8.3 2 10 - 19% 13
Steve Hathaway
9.3 3 10 - 21% 14
Tyler Wagner
9.7 1 15 - 22% 15
Evan Marshall
10.1 1 14 - 23% 15
Edwin Escobar 10.3 1 9/11/12 - 14% 15
Adam Loewen
13.3 6 14 - 36% 15
Dominic Leone
13.3 7 15 - 37% 15

Or if you prefer a visual indication, here's a chart plotting the average mark for each pitcher.