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Arizona Diamondbacks Spring Training Position Battles: Bullpen

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The herd has been significantly thinned, one way or another.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When we originally looked at the 2017 Diamondbacks bullpen, there were 26 potential candidates - and that was before we added T.J. McFarland. However, injury and roster cuts have succeeded in winnowing down the candidates significantly. Here are the stats of those I’d say have pitched in spring training and have a legitimate shot at a bullpen spot. They are listed in descending order of innings pitched, in Cactus League games only i.e. excluding exhibition contests.

D-backs relief candidates

Player ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG WHIP
Player ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG WHIP
Bradley, A 7.98 14.2 23 15 13 2 4 11 .348 1.84
Wilhelmsen, T 1.23 7.1 3 1 1 1 4 4 .130 0.95
Davis, E 2.57 7.0 7 2 2 0 1 7 .250 1.14
Chafin, A 2.70 6.2 4 6 2 2 0 8 .160 0.60
Jones, T 4.05 6.2 7 5 3 0 0 8 .241 1.05
Delgado, R 1.50 6.0 4 1 1 1 0 10 .190 0.67
Godley, Z 6.00 6.0 10 4 4 0 1 8 .370 1.83
Hoover, J 0.00 5.2 4 0 0 0 0 7 .200 0.71
Marshall, E 3.38 5.1 9 2 2 0 1 3 .391 1.88
Matusz, B 6.75 5.1 10 5 4 1 0 7 .385 1.88
De La Rosa, J 3.60 5.0 5 2 2 0 4 5 .250 1.80
Jepsen, K 6.00 3.0 4 2 2 2 1 1 .364 1.67
McFarland, T 4.50 2.0 5 1 1 0 1 0 .500 3.00
Rodney, F 0.00 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 1.00

Near-certs

  • Randall Delgado
  • Fernando Rodney

Delgado has had a particularly good spring training, throwing six innings and delivering a K:BB ratio of 10:0, and has likely cemented his spot as a result. Francisco Rodney hasn’t been seen very much in the Cactus League, due to his participation in the World Baseball Classic with the Dominican Republic team. He allowed one run over 3.1 inning there, with a K:BB of 4:0, but the run did lead to a blown save against Colombia.

Wounded warriors

  • Jake Barrett (shoulder)
  • Silvino Bracho (thigh)
  • Rubby De La Rosa (elbow)
  • Steve Hathaway (shoulder)
  • Kevin Jepsen (thigh)

That’s quite a slew of injuries, and the above are probably questionable at best for any Opening Day spot. It’s particularly a blow for Barrett, who was previously in the “near-cert” category. Relief pitchers don’t need as much in-game action to be ready as other players, but time is running out if they are going to prove their return to fitness, at the very least.

Stock rising

  • Andrew Chafin
  • J.J. Hoover
  • Tom Wilhelmsen

The above three have delivered solid pre-season numbers, which have likely improved their chances of making the Opening Day bullpen. In Chafin’s case, this spring was partly about proving his fitness, after a 2016 curtailed by injury. He’s done that, and a K:BB of 8:0 in 6.2 innings also impresses. Hoover has a similar good ratio (7:0 in 5.2 IP), and Wilhelmsen had held batters to a .130 average, though his K:BB (4:4) leaves something to be desired. But if Opening Day was today, the trio would likely all make it onto the Arizona roster.

On the bubble

  • Erik Davis
  • Jorge De La Rosa
  • Tyler Jones

While Davis has allowed two runs over seven innings, with a K:BB of 7:1,much of that work has come late on in games, against other teams’ B-hitters. De La Rosa’s length and experience makes him a valuable option, but a K:BB of 5:4 is a significant question-mark. Jones’s Rule 5 status gives him an advantage, and his 8:0 ratio stands out more than his 4.05 ERA.

Stock falling

  • Zack Godley
  • Evan Marshall
  • Brian Matusz
  • T.J. McFarland

While Godley has had his share of work, and a good 8:1 K:BB, he has also allowed ten hits in only six innings. We’re all rooting for Marshall, but Evan only has three K’s in 5.1 innings, and a .391 average suggests he’s not missing many bats. Matusz’s average against is hardly any better, though does have a 7:0 K:BB in his favor - again, the quality of the hitters he has faced is likely a factor. McFarland’s late arrival puts him already behind, and the bases have been left littered with his runners in his appearances thus far.

Conclusions

There is still time for things to change, particularly on the health front. Barrett’s rehab has been going well - he could still be ready, and if so, will likely command a spot. Manager Torey Lovullo said, “It’s going to be close. We’re going to continue to ramp him up but we’re going to proceed with caution.” But my gut feeling is that this caution will lead to him missing the cut - perhaps not by much, but enough. As a result, here’s my current best guess at our Opening Day bullpen:

  • Andrew Chafin
  • Jorge De La Rosa
  • Randall Delgado
  • J.J. Hoover
  • Tyler Jones
  • Fernando Rodney
  • Tom Wilhelmsen