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Towards a 2017 Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen

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MLB: Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • Brad Ziegler: gone
  • Josh Collmenter: gone
  • Tyler Clippard: gone
  • Daniel Hudson: impending free-agent

That’s more than half of the 2016 Opening Day bullpen who will not be part of the Diamondbacks five days after the World Series ends. There’s going to be some significant rebuilding necessary, and with our relievers currently sporting the second-worst ERA in the National League, at 4.98, that’s likely a necessity. Who might we see down there, sporting the Hello Kitty backpack next season?

With two months left in the season, and September call-ups still to take place, the Diamondbacks have already tied the franchise record, having used 21 different bullpen arms this year. 18 have been “pure” relievers i.e. excluding outings by the likes of Rubby De La Rosa, also the highest ever. Of those 18, five are no longer with the organization (the three listed above, plus Keith Hessler and Kyle Drabek). Below, find a vague “Power Ranking” of the remaining 13. However, remember that less than a handful have thrown as many as 20 innings in the majors, so the results are going to be highly volatile.

  1. Jake Barrett. With a 2.79 ERA, Barrett has been one of the few relievers to make a good impression this year, and may well end up being the closer for the rest of the year. He has struck out better than a hitter per inning, but his FIP is 4.04, suggesting some regression in his future.
  2. Enrique Burgos. His FIP is very similar to Barrett’s, at 4.10, but control remains a bigger question-mark - Burgos has walked a dozen in 19.2 innings. He has done a better job of keeping the ball in the park, with one home-run allowed this year.
  3. Randall Delgado. He’s been around for ever, so startling to realize Delgado is just a few months older than Steve Hathaway. The most experienced candidate, with over 150 relief appearances, Randall’s K-rate has dropped significantly in the past couple of years, and is now below eight per 9IP.
  4. Daniel Hudson. With the threat of a trade now apparently gone, will that allow Hudson to return to form? Or are his recent issues more than just mental? We’ll find out. The Huddy we got through mid-June would be a valuable component for 2017. The one seen over the past six weeks won’t even get a minor-league contract.
  5. Andrew Chafin. An ugly 6.75 ERA, yet a phenomenal strikeout rate (28 in 22.2 IP), helps lead to a 2.83 FIP. A .375 BABIP certainly hasn’t helped, and there may have been a physical issue too, with shoulder tendinitis. Fingers crossed for better results, when he comes back off the DL.
  6. Evan Marshall. Another victim of BABIP (.434), though a K:BB ratio of 9:7 isn’t very impressive either. Reno strikeout rate is down, and you have to wonder if he’ll ever be the same pitcher he was before his near-fatal injury in El Paso last year.
  7. Tyler Wagner. Where the heck is Wagner? Impressed over three long-relief outings in April, with two earned runs over 10 innings, yet hasn’t pitched since May 13. He was placed on the DL by Reno two days later, with no indication to the nature of his injury. Since then? Not a peep.
  8. Silvino Bracho. Remember when Silvino was being tagged the closer of the future? Has largely failed to follow up on his impressive debut last year, though Bracho’s peripherals for the Aces are much better than those in the majors. Just turned 24 last month, so still some hope.
  9. Zac Curtis. When we’d had enough of Hessler, Curtis was called all the way up from High-A ball to the majors as a potential LOOGY. But he walked more people than he struck out, especially in his second stint during July where his K:BB ratio was 2:7. That’ll need to be fixed before he stick around.
  10. Dominic Leone. Since the start of 2015, he has appeared in 25 major-league games, with Arizona and Seattle, and has an ERA of 8.00 with a WHIP above 2.1. Can someone explain a world where we DFA Collmenter, yet Leone remains on the active roster?

Incomplete: Matt Buschmann, Steve Hathaway and Adam Loewen. Having thrown only 8.1 innings between them this year, hard to say anything of significance. Buschmann is more of a starter, but with Collmenter gone, could be a candidate for a long-relief role in 2017. Hathaway and Loewen are both left-handers, so are getting their auditions now. Loewen also played in the majors as an outfielder (with the Blue Jays in 2011), and has a bit more experience, but a career 5.84 ERA doesn’t give much hope.

Up and coming. The potential list beyond those already called up, begins with Jimmy Sherfy. He has an 0.60 ERA over three levels this year, and a K:BB ratio of 66:17 in 44.2 innings, and seems someone likely to make their debut in September. The higher levels (AA and AAA) are otherwise light in terms of impressive performances. But Jared Miller, an 11th round pick from 2014, was just moved to Reno, his third promotion of the year, and has a 1.79 ERA this season.

External candidates. There is always the possibility of players being signed or traded for, from outside. Over the weekend, Dave Stewart seemed to rule out the chance of any high-priced closers, but seemed open to adding experienced arms elsewhere in the bullpen: “We’ll look, we’ll try to do as good a job as we can to evaluate what we have here internally and we’ll go from there.”