Bullpen Preview: Middle Relief


This is the second post in a three-post series on the bullpen of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The second most important position for the Diamondbacks in their bullpen is the collective group of middle relievers.  The D-backs don’t need it all the time but every once in awhile their pitchers will have bad outings and will need their middle relievers to step up and eat innings without giving up many runs.  There are many a capable middle reliever in the D-back bullpen, but the main ones I will focus on are Brad Ziegler, Joe Paterson and Takashi Saito.

I see all three of these guys playing vital roles in the bullpen, especially Ziegler.  Last season, his first in Arizona after being traded half-way through the season from the A’s, he went 3-2 with a 2.16 ERA, 1 save in 2 opportunities, striking out 44 batters and a 1.23 WHIP.  Ziegler had a great season followed by a disastrous 1/3 of an inning against the Brewers in which he gave up four runs on four hits and walked two batters.  The playoffs were not a great experience, but they were Ziegler’s first taste of the postseason experience and I look for him to improving on his 2011 season.  MLB.com player projections have him going 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.  Arizona will hope he can continue to induce the ground ball to be effective in the bullpen and middle relief.

Paterson will look to avoid a sophomore slump after enjoying a very good rookie season going 0-3 with a 2.91 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.  Paterson threw 34 innings and will look to gobble up garbage time in the 5th and 6th innings if a starter does not have a very good outing.  Being one of the left-handed pitchers for the D-backs, he will look to come in and get the big left-handed hitters out.

The best acquisition for this bullpen was that of Saito.  Even though Saito is 42 years old, he has proven he can still pitch very effectively as long as he is healthy.  Last year with the Milwaukee Brewers, he posted a 4-2 record, a 2.03 ERA, and a 1.13 WHIP, and this is a very good sign for a pitcher who figures to be the seventh inning guy in front of David Hernandez, paving the way for J.J. Putz.

As long as all three of these pitchers have seasons comparable to their last seasons respectively, the D-back bullpen will be in good shape.  The strength of this team is definitely the pitching staff and the middle relief should be able to hold down their end of the bargain in the playoff run.

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