The trade for Brad Zielger last season represents one of those “under the radar” deals that end up paying big dividends. Not only did he help solidify the bullpen last season, he may play an even bigger role in the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ fortune in 2012. If for some reason JJ Putz is unavailable in a save situation, Zielger has the closing experience to get the job done. He has appeared in over 60 games the past three seasons, no small feat given the precarious nature of middle relief.
Closers are the ones who grab headlines and large paychecks but it is the middle relievers that often get the toughest outs in a ballgame. They are brought in most often to start the ninth inning. There are not too many times closers are brought in the eighth inning with runners on base. Middle relievers and setup men, on the other hand, are often brought in during the middle of an inning. This might be the only issue with Ziegler. His walks per 9 innings ratio is on the high side, particularly for a guy who has to finish off messy, inherited situations. However, his side arm motion will always cause problems even for the most dangerous of right-handed hitters.
If Arizona does indeed get the post-trade Brad Ziegler from last season, their bullpen will once again be championship-caliber. The trio of Putz, Ziegler and David Hernandez is probably the best in West and arguably one of the top three in the entire National League. If Ziegler can get his walks down, we might be looking at some more October baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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