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Arizona Diamondbacks Game Preview, #123: Another day, another meltdown?

Once again, the D-backs bullpen were unable to do their job last night.

Kent Horner/Getty Images
Robbie Ray
LHP, 6-11, 4.47
Clayton Richard
LHP, 0-2, 5.75)
Jean Segura - SS Alexei Ramirez - SS
Phil Gosselin - 2B Wil Myers - 1B
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Yangervis Solarte - 3B
Rickie Weeks - LF Ryan Schimpf - 2B
Yasmany Tomas - RF Christian Bethancourt - RF
Welington Castillo - C Derek Norris - C
Mitch Haniger - CF Patrick Kivlehan - LF
Brandon Drury - 3B Clayton Richard - LHP
Robbie Ray - LHP Travis Jankowski - CF

The raw number of saves blown by the Diamondbacks bullpen this year isn't actually very different from league average. At 15, it's actually fractionally below the NL mean, which is 15.8. But what that doesn't take into account is that no team in the league has had fewer save opportunities than the D-backs relievers: the figure of 39 there is considerably below average (47.7), and the resulting save percentage of 61% is also sub-standard (67%). It also doesn't take into account the bullpen's performances, for example, when games are tied. These are equally as crucial, yet won't show up as these are not save situations.

You can get a better idea of how the bullpen performance has impacted the team, by looking at another stat: the number of "meltdowns". These are relief performances which drop the team's Win Probability by more than 6%. there's a positive equivalent, "shutdowns", for bullpen outings which move the needle the same amount in the opposite direction. The number of Diamondbacks' meltdowns, at 71, is second-most in the majors. It trails only the Marlins' 76, but they have a far greater number of shutdowns than Arizona. In terms of balance, the D-backs figure of Shutdowns - Meltdowns, of a mere +10, is tied with Cincinnati as the very worst in the majors.

If we break it down to the individual level, we see why. The team's two best arms, Brad Ziegler (+16) and Tyler Clippard (+8) are no more. The rest of the team, over the course of the season, sits at -14. Silvino Bracho, Andrew Chafin, Zac Curtis and Dominic Leone have combined for 14 meltdowns and precisely zero shutdowns. Not one. There's still 40 games left, and our relievers' WP total for the season is already at -290%, the second-worst in franchise history. Whoever handles the D-backs front-office this winter is going to have their work cut out, trying to build a bullpen that can do a far better job of holding onto Win Probability.