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SnakePit Round Table: Relief pitching, part two

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We continue our look at the bullpen. Please note: some of these questions were posed and answered before Monday's signing of Tyler Clippard!

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Should the team add another bullpen arm?

Preston: It might be nice, but it would be a luxury. The team is well positioned with players that already are or could be great out of the bullpen. The starting pitcher should be able to go six more often than not, and turn it over to some combination of Delgado, Bradley, Chafin, Ziegler, and Hudson. That's pretty good.

Piratedan7: They've already done some pickings via trade and bargain bin shopping. I have to say, that the majority of relievers appear to be so volatile, that finding someone established that translates to your ballpark seems to be a rather arcane art of mixing styles and strengths.

Makakilo: Before talking about adding arms, we need to look at the core relievers. The Diamondbacks had five relievers that pitched more than 60 innings. Their ERA+ was above average and I would confidently pick them again in 2016.

Relief Pitcher

IP

ERA+

Ziegler

68

113

Chafin

75

148

Delgado

72

126

Collmenter

121

108

Hudson

67.2

106

  • Assumption 1: The Diamondbacks carry the standard 7 relief pitchers (ignoring an article that talked about eight relievers). That leaves two open positions - relievers six and seven.
  • Assumption 2: Rubby De La Rosa remains a starting pitcher instead of a reliever.
  • Assumption 3: Having seven excellent/above-average relief pitchers makes an impact on winning games. My philosophy is that pitching is more important than hitting for two reasons. First, pitching defines the game for the opponent's hitters - the chances of success and which swinging approach is best. Second, hitting is situational - and that is why relief pitcher options are important.

I don't feel confident about the remaining relief pitchers. My lack of confidence is due to too few innings in the majors (like Silvino Bracho), troublesome results, or both. I would be satisfied if one, perhaps Silvino Bracho, wins relief position number six, and pitches 60 innings with an ERA+ of 110 or better.

To reduce the chance of having a below average result (ERA+ less than 100) in relief position seven, my approach would be to add a free agent pitcher to compete for the position. My target would be a low-cost, high-risk, high-ceiling free agent. I would offer a one-year contract, with bonus money based on number of games on the 25-man roster, with a team option for year two.

Xipooo: Only to go for a closer, but really that's only if Rubby De La Rosa stays in the rotation. Otherwise he'd be my top choice for a closing roll. We have a substantial bullpen already plus a few guys who either won't be starting or are great in AAA.

Steven: With the uncertainty of the youngsters, I wouldn't mind having another guy who we could count on to hold a lead. We have the cash to do it, but I'd understand running out the young guys.

Jim: It's hard to say, without knowing the details of the financial situation. I think it might be prudent to have some cash in reserve, to fill whatever unexpected needs might show up over the course of the season. If we can sign a reliever and still have enough money for that, then sure, some additional depth would be nice. I have to say, we seem to be weaker in that area that with our starting pitching, where we have perhaps three or four, equally good candidates for the fifth spot. Not sure I feel quite the same about the last bullpen role.

What would you offer Tyler Clippard.

Preston: Clippard has been arguably one of the more valuable relievers for a while now, being great as a set-up man and as a closer in limited work. But he'll be 31 at the start of the season, and he'll command a lot of money. Maybe I go 2 years $19 million, but I don't think I go higher than that, and someone almost certainly will.

Piratedan7: A chance to make some significant coin....

Makakilo: He is not a match for the Diamondbacks because his ground ball rate is low (21.2%). Nevertheless, if I was told to offer him something to drive his price up, I would offer him a non-guaranteed minor league contract with incentives. And immediately I would ask Dave Stewart to make a public comment like, "Diamondbacks have no need to add any relief pitchers because we have the highest confidence that our pitching prospects are ready for the majors. However, I'm always open to listening to pitchers because that's my job."

Xipooo: If you can get him, then yes. This is a year they're going for it all. He could help the team, but there's no guarantee he's in their price range.

Steven: I'd give him a 1-year deal worth $5-6 million. He probably wants to close and if he responded with a solid year in Arizona, why not try to resign him the next year?

Jim: The fact he's still on the market bothers me, so I'd go for something with quite a lot of incentives for appearances. Maybe a total of $6m, including all those, for this year, with a team option for a flat $7m in 2016.

Are you concerned about the apparent shortage of left-handed options?

Preston: Somewhat, but having Chafin able to face both is actually an advantage in my book. I'd rather have someone good at getting both out than a LOOGY, actually. It would be nice to have another LHP, but bullpen slots are often easier to fill mid-season.

Piratedan7: - No more so than the other questions that exist, like who will play 2nd base? will they find someone other than a cardboard cutout as the backup catcher?

Makakilo: Chafin, who is a lock to be on the 25-man roster, pitches well to both left-handed and right-handed batters. Adding a second left-handed relief pitcher would give Chip Hale high flexibility to bring in a lefty in key situations, possibly increasing season wins.

There is no standout who I would pick for the second lefty reliever. The five internal options had negative RE24 value except Wesley Wright, who had zero value.

Pitcher

IP-majors

GB%

Soft-hit%

SIERA

ERA+

RE24

Matt Reynolds

13.2

44.4

22.2

3.23

91

-4.18

Wesley Wright

7.1

30.4

26.1

3.65

115

0

Scott Rice 2014

13.2

66.7

15

4.63

60

-0.43

Adam Loewen

19.1

34

5.9

4.88

58

-4.98

Keith Hessler

12.1

39

19.5

3.64

52

-7.19

  • Matt Reynolds. Will he be as good as he was before his Tommy John surgery? I am encouraged that he can handle the workload (63.2 innings AAA/majors). What worries me most is he gave up 6 home runs in 13.2 innings in the majors. I'd give him a close look in spring training.

  • Wesley Wright. He missed 3 months of 2015 due to a shoulder strain. His ERA+ of 115 is the highest, and he has the highest soft hit percentage(26.1%). I'd give him a close look in spring training.

  • Scott Rice. In 2015, he pitched 39.2 innings in AAA with an excellent ERA of 1.82. For comparability reasons, the table shows his results from 2014 in the majors. In 2014, his ground ball rate was an awesome 67%. On the other hand his ERA+ was 60 (very bad). I'd give him a close look in spring training.

  • Adam Loewen and Keith Hessler. They need development time in the minors.

  • Another possibility is to add a free agent lefty. Two possibles are Craig Breslow and Neal Cotts. They have ground ball rates of 35.1% and 37.2 %. Craig Breslow is interesting because he wants to be a spot starting pitcher. Neal Cotts is also interesting because he has a higher SO/BB ratio and higher RE24 than Craig Breslow. As mentioned earlier, I would offer a one-year contract, with incentives and a team option for year two.

Xipoo: No.

Steven: With some of the lefty hitters in the NL West, I'm a bit surprised they didn't do anything to shore up their major league left-handed options. No one they have in the minors inspires much confidence for me.

Jim: I would rather have spots occupied by good right-handed relievers than mediocre ones who just happen to be lefties (much though I'm entirely in favor of affirmative action for us downtrodden southpaws!). That said, it is a potential weakness that could be exploited by opponents in late innings. I don't want to see Chafin reduced to a LOOGY role, but he was good against both left- and right-handed hitters last year, so we could use him and not worry about him having to face a right-hander, unlike certain relievers.

Slots appear confirmed for Ziegler, Daniel Hudson, Josh Collmenter, Randall Delgado and Andrew Chafin. Who gets the other two?

Preston: Archie Bradley, if he doesn't get a rotation slot, should move to the bullpen. He could turn into Wade Davis there. If not Bradley, then another converted starter, or maybe Zack Godley going reliever-starter-reliever. Silvino Bracho and Enrique Burgos also have a decent chance at being in the mix.

Piratedan7: whoever impresses the most out of Spring Training...

Makakilo: Piratedan is right! That's the best approach because the Diamondbacks are in a win-now mode.

Although Rubby De La Rosa would be an excellent reliever, he will probably be a starter. Except for De La Rosa, who is out of options, my preference is to keep starting pitchers as starters so that an injury is only a bump in the road instead of a crash. Other out-of-options complications do not seem significant. Two on-roster pitchers are out-of-options (Rubby De La Rosa and Randall Delgado), and two off-roster pitchers are out-of-options(Sam LeCure and Adam Loewen).

Who would I pick, if they impress in spring training? Silvino Bracho, who is on the 40-man roster, and Wesley Wright, who has a non-roster invite.

Xipooo: I think RDLR is a perfect fit for the bullpen closer position. But if he's still in the rotation we might see Bracho or Burgos.

Steven: I think they sign Clippard and then give the spot to one of Bracho/Burgos.

Jim: Bracho for me, and probably a left-handed option like Reynolds.

Random question: What country in the world would you most like to visit?

Preston: I've travelled a bit, but never to Asia, South America, or Oceania. I'm thinking New Zealand, Chile, or Mongolia.

Piratedan7: Australia/New Zealand is my answer... followed by Iceland, Finland, Japan

Makakilo: France celebrates champagne, wine, and romance. The French spirit is captured in an animated movie, A Cat In Paris. The movie has beauty, imagination, and an unlikely romance between a cat burglar and a chief of police. Like the movie, you can expect beauty and surprises. Nothing is better than eating at a sidewalk cafe while watching people walk by.

Xipooo: I'm taking my first trip out of country next month and am extremely excited. But of all the countries I'd like to visit, I'd say China. I'm fascinated with their culture and the history.

Steven: I love Eastern Europe and wouldn't mind returning, but I only hear good things about Asia, specifically Japan.

Jim: Somewhere offering lots of variety, from the rural to the urban. Russia or China, I think.