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Diamondbacks Game Preview #124: 8/26 @ White Sox

How bad is the D-backs bullpen? Depends how you measure it.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Kelsey Grant/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Josh Rojas - 2B Romy Gonzalez - 2B
Emmanuel Rivera - 3B Andrew Vaughn - DH
Ketel Marte - DH Jose Abreu - 1B
Christian Walker - 1B Eloy Jimenez - LF
Daulton Varsho - RF AJ Pollock - RF
Jordan Luplow - LF Elvis Andrus - SS
Alek Thomas - CF Josh Harrison - 3B
Carson Kelly - C Adam Engel - CF
Geraldo Perdomo - SS Seby Zavala - C
Tommy Henry - LHP Johnny Cueto - RHP

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves yesterday:

  • RHP Reyes Moronta (No. 59) reported to the team and will be active for tonight’s game.
  • Designated RHP Chris Devenski for assignment.
  • The D-backs’ 40-man roster is at 39.

Tuesday’s game in Kansas City definitely hurt. Zac Gallen might not have been at his best, but he worked six scoreless innings. Daulton Varsho’s home-run gave the D-backs a fragile 1-0 lead at the stretch, as Torey Lovullo went to the bullpen. Just 21 pitches later, it was a 5-1 deficit, with only one out recorded by Noe Ramirez and Joe Mantiply. If you thought you had heard this tune before, you’d be right. It was the ninth time this year an Arizona starter had allowed no runs, but the D-backs had lost the game. No team in the majors has more of those “super tough” losses (the Rays also have nine, but that’s because they use an opener), and it’s already smashed the previous team record for such games, of seven set in 2010.

Inevitably after such a loss, attention turns to the relief corps. How bad have they been? Well, like many things in baseball, that depends on how you measure it. By ERA, it’s surprisingly middle of the pack: only 10th-worst in franchise history. But by bullpen losses, they already rank equal fourth most, on 31 losses - the same as in all of 2004 - and there is still six weeks left in the season. They are on pace to come very close to the all-time mark of 41, set last year. That season, the bullpen ERA was 5.08, over five for the first time since 2010, so you could argue this year is actually significant improvement. But the 2022 bullpen is also on course to WIN 32 games, third-most. They’re simply involved more often.

As Jack mentioned in Snake Bytes yesterday, you can also use Win Probability - the cumulative tally of what the bullpen has done to our chance of victory. There, it’s pretty grim, with a total of -381%: but that’s still not even half the tally last year where they racked up a staggering -860%. By WP, that was the fourth-worst bullpen in NL history. But Arizona was not even the worst of 2021, a dubious honor belonging to the Nationals at -989%. On an individual level, bad though Mark Melancon has been at -189%, there have been three worse relievers for the D-backs. In 2002, Brett Prinz was at -191%; in the team’s first season, Felix Rodriguez was at -247%, and that dreadful 2010 ‘pen was anchored by Chad Qualls’s -286%.

So, bad though this lot have been by some measures... things could be worse!