We may have found the first nugget in the offseason of the Arizona Diamondbacks and no, I am not refering to the firing of pitching coach Charles Nagy and first base coach Steve Sax. D-Backs’ CEO Derrick Hall held his monthly chat with fans on Thursday (which you can read here) and it was mostly a review of 2013 and his hopes for the team in 2014. One exchange between Hall and a fan particuarly caught my attention:
RH6194: Is there any talk about acquiring a new closer? Ziegler did well in the role although he doesn’t seem to feel comfortable in it.
Derrick_Hall: He did a great job for us, and we feel like we have the candidates in-house between him, Hernandez, Stites, Barrett and Putz.
You can probably figure out where I am going from here. It appears that Jake Barrett and Matt Stites will be getting an opportunity in Spring Training to compete for the closer’s job. That should get D-Backs’ fans pumped. I understand neither pitcher has played above Double A but you need to check out their 2013 numbers:
Barrett-3-2, 1.21 ERA, 52 games, 52 innings pitched, 39 hits, 13 walks, 59 strikeouts, 29 saves
Stites-2-2, 2.08 ERA, 46 games, 52 innings pitched, 37 hits 9 walks, 51 strikeouts, 14 saves
Both pitchers are currently playing for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League. Stites pitched the opening game and was shelled for four hits and three runs in a third of an inning and took the loss. Barrett allowed one hit in one inning and struck out three in the next day’s game. Regardless of what happens in the AFL, it sounds as though both men have an excellent chance of breaking camp with the big club. After last season’s frustrations with the bullpen, that is welcome news.