While much has been talked about regarding the shortstop battle for the Arizona Diamondbacks, another position has seemingly opened up as we move along in Spring Training. With the acquisition of Addison Reed, the closer’s role has been thrust into the forefront with another Spring battle among worthy competitors vying to be the top dog out the bullpen.
Let’s face, the only two guys that will be competing for the job are Reed and J.J. Putz. I know, Brad Ziegler and David Hernandez are also considered candidates but I don’t believe for a second either one of them will get it. I have explained previously that Ziegler needs to be a 7th or 8th inning man and that Hernandez, despite his great work in September, may not be ready just yet to be the guy. While we are throwing out names, can we bring back Matt Mantei and Greg Aquino? Anyway, whoever is the “loser” in this battle will probably get to be the main setup man. Getting batters out in the eighth inning is just as important as getting them out in the ninth. In fact, closers normally only start the ninth frame while every reliever before that may enter the game with runners on base. Also, doesn’t it always seems as though the heart of a batting order comes up in the eighth rather than the ninth?
I am torn between the two. Logically, giving up a solid third base prospect in Matt Davidson plus the fact he is almost 11 years younger should give the nod to Reed. However, my first thought in making Putz an eighth inning guy scares me. In 34 1/3 innings last season, he walked 17 and gave up four home runs, alarmingly high numbers in such a small amount of frames. That doesn’t translate well to a setup in role in which a reliever needs to have excellent control and keep the bases filled, not emptied (except for a double play). Upon looking closely at the numbers, Putz did seem to fare OK in a non-closing role. Only four walks were issued after July 31st and only two runs were given up in that same span (13 1/3 innings). At this point, I can’t argue with either guy being the stopper but if I am going to pick one, I’ll go with Reed.