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Arizona Diamondbacks All-Time Top 50: Relief pitchers

The all-time top 50 is set, as we reveal the bullpen arms

NLDS: Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs - Game 3 Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Earlier in the week, we asked you to decide which starting pitchers should qualify for our upcoming All-Time Arizona Diamondbacks Top 50. We provided 19 names, and asked you to select which of them should move into the ranking phase. Voting has now closed, and we’re ready to announce the qualifiers for the second stage. As with the other categories, full results will not be provided, to avoid possibly contaminating the ranking phase. We will, instead, break down the results into various bands, and list the players in each category alphabetically.

Almost-unanimous (95%+)

  • Byung-Hyun Kim
  • J.J. Putz
  • Jose Valverde
  • Brad Ziegler

There were two in this category who did get named on every ballot, and the other two were not far behind. What all four of these have in common is not just that they were relief pitchers: they have all been Diamondbacks closers, making them the highest profile of the men to come out of the bullpen. All were very successful in the role, for one or more seasons. Between them, they are responsible for five out of the eight 30-save seasons in franchise history - Putz had two of them. They also represent four of the five pitchers with 50 career saves for the Diamondbacks.

Also qualifying (50-94%)

  • David Hernandez
  • Daniel Hudson
  • Matt Mantei
  • Greg Swindell

The fifth 50-save man, Mantei, can be found in this group: his luster was perhaps dimmed by the way his time here petered out, derailed by injury and ineffectiveness. Swindell got the highest votes for a non-closer, and was especially effective in 1999 and 2000, throwing 140.2 innings with an ERA+ of 163. The other two are both more recent and represent the other non-closers to make the list. Hernandez was part of two Arizona play-off rosters, in 2011 and 2017, and is second to Ziegler on the list for franchise appearances.

Missed it by that much (20-49%)

  • Andrew Chafin
  • Juan Cruz
  • Randall Delgado
  • Mike Koplove
  • Brandon Lyon
  • Gregg Olson

The leading vote-getter in this group was Delgado, but he did not pass the figure achieved by Omar Daal, the highest non-qualifier among the starting pitchers. So Daal gets the wild-card spot, and moves on to the ranking phase as the 25th and final pitcher. Among the non-recent, less familiar names, Olson was the team’s first closer, who got 30 saves on the not very good 1998 D-backs. He was replaced half-way through the more successful 1999 season, after the team traded for Mantei. Koplove was with Arizona from 2001-06 and gave them 248.2 innings at an ERA+ of 122.

Thanks for taking part (< 20%)

  • Brandon Medders
  • Doug Slaten
  • Oscar Villarreal
  • Luis Vizcaino
  • Tony Pena

We’ll move rapidly past this batch, except to note that everyone here did receive multiple votes for inclusion, so should not feel too disappointed.


Archie Bradley (9 mentions) + Josh Collmenter (4) led the way: those who mentioned them will be pleased to learn they will both be on the final ballot anyway, having qualified out of the starting pitcher category. Fernando Rodney got three mentions, and there were also nods for Clay Zavada, Mike Fetters, Yusmero Petit, Daniel Descalso (!) and “Eddie Oropesa lolololol jk". I’d like to thank AzDbackfaninDc, who wrote in, “Hi Boss Hope you are enjoying your vacation.” But it’s not a vacation. My job has sent me on a training course, which means getting up at 5:45am, hence the large number of pre-scheduled posts. Normal service - and sleep - will be resumed next week!

This concludes the first part of the voting. The ranking phase will begin next week. We’ll combine the three categories and post the full top 50 next Tuesday, along with the form so you can drag and drop them into the order you want. It’ll give you something to do over the festive season...