In the first half of this article series, we looked at the starting rotation for the 2015 Arizona Diamondbacks using FanGraphs data to project success or failure for the upcoming season. In this segment, we’ll look at the bullpen and do the same. Hopefully, dispensing a few accurate projections while looking for better from this group of relievers and closers.
Beginning with the right-handed closer Addison Reed, who is arbitration eligible and is currently exchanging salary numbers in hopes of negotiating salary for this season. Reed turned in a 1-7 record for the Diamondbacks last season appearing in 62 Games with an ERA of 4.25 over 59 1/2 innings pitched. His ERA is up in comparison to his time with the Chicago White Sox where Reed pitched a similar amount of games and innings but came away with a 5-4 record for the 2013 season.
This year, FanGraphs projects that his ERA will fall to 3.25 over 65 games with 31 recorded saves. Overall it looks like he will improve this season. This is a much needed aspect as this bullpen has been ailing for a few seasons, especially in close games with a one or two run differential going into the late innings. Of course run support from an offense will help, but so will doing your job and getting outs when your club needs you to has to figure into a winning formula.
Next we find twelve year veteran lefty Oliver Perez, who has been with three other clubs including the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates and more recently the Seattle Mariners. Despite the high-mileage, Perez looks to have another solid year pitching, this time in the Diamondbacks bullpen. His ERA consistently hovers at or just under 3.00 while his L.O.B or Left on Base percentage has been above 75% consistently for the last three seasons. 2014 saw Perez walk away with a 3-4 record in 68 starts with 58 2/3 innings pitched.
The prediction provided by FanGraphs this season is a finish of 3-3 with 2 saves over 55 games, tossing 55 even innings. His ERA will rise a tick to 3.09 for the season. He’s a battle-tested veteran who can stand up to the pressure of pitching in tense situations where an out or two are desperately needed to keep the game within winnable reach.
Following Perez is Daniel Hudson who is making his return from Tommy-John surgery after missing a majority of the 2014 season. If he progresses, I think he will do better than the projections say he will. FanGraphs lists him as having a 1-1 season, over 20 games with 20 innings pitched with a slightly higher than normal ERA of 3.75.
I think this projection speaks towards a very cautious approach of using Hudson, to protect his surgically repaired arm and the investment made in bringing him back. I think he will make great strides this season in improving as a pitcher should after such a major surgery.
Newcomer to the group, rookie right hander Matt Stites is green and unproven. He did appear in limited action last season. FanGraphs contributing writer Kelly McDaniel, however, writes that he sits at #13 of the top 40 Full-Value Prospects in this year’s off-season noting “Stites was acquired in the Ian Kennedy deal and has developed into a potential setup guy.”.
Not much in the way of additional information in the article published on September 16, 2014 that might provide some insight. So as far as we know and could project, Matt Stites isn’t anything other than a potential arm that could turn into something the Diamondbacks need, at a bargain.
In the same article discussing the Diamondbacks pitching prospects, we turn our attention to RHP Randall Delgado. The 24 year old was listed in the top six players coined a “growth asset” for this season and into the future. With that idea in mind, especially looking at last year’s numbers -the FanGraphs article could be right.
The 2014 season saw Delgado record four wins and four losses with a career high 4.87 ERA. I’m not too concerned about the ERA being a bit high, due to the fact that he averaged 9.97 strike outs per nine innings. FanGraphs projects a 6-6 season this time around while seeing his ERA take a full one point drop down to 3.80, while his strike out per nine innings ration remains high at 8.26. I’d say Delgado will do fine, maybe not “lights out” great while pitching this season, but steady improvement nevertheless.
Next on our list of projections is six year veteran, RHP Brad Ziegler. Last season saw Ziegler go down with a micro-fracture in his left knee on September 9th, as reported by Arizona Republic Sports Writer Nick Piecoro. He eventually had season ending surgery in Phoenix a week later after a consult for a second opinion in L.A. resulted in no change in diagnosis. Last season saw the late inning reliever turn in a 5-3 record appearing in 68 games with a 3.49 ERA. This seems a bit high considering his WHIP ERA is 1.25 with
54 strike outs while collecting just one save during his last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. FanGraphs projects Ziegler to go 3-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 65 while collecting four saves while striking out 46 hitters. I’d say that’s not too bad considering he’s returning from knee surgery this spring. According to an article in the Arizona Republic on November 11th, Ziegler said “he’s not sure” if he will return despite making some good progress in rehabilitation during this offseason. Only time will tell. I hope he does make a successful come-back, this bullpen needs more solid choices to bridge the gap to the ninth inning.
Finally, we look at Rookie RHP Evan Marshall. Making his MLB Debut on September 4th against the San Diegro Padres in a 2-1 loss that saw him toss two shutout innings while only allowing two hits. He struck out three batters during the contest that provided a spring-board of sorts despite a dismal season.
He finished the season at 4-4 over 57 game appearances, pitching 49 1/3 innings while recording a tidy 2.74 ERA. FanGraphs projects he will see 57 games, recording a 2-2 season with a slightly higher ERA at 3.34 while collecting 34 strike outs in a relief/closers role for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Personally speaking, I think Evan Marshall has a great deal of talent and potential, I hope the Diamondbacks take advantage in working to develop him into a rock solid closer.
Looking at all of the pitchers in the bullpen this season, I would remark that the Arizona Diamondbacks front office has really done some great work in solidifying this group. Granted, this bullpen is young, with plenty of potential for a boom or bust season. Overall, I think it’s one of the missing pieces that this club needs moving forward to turn this next season into a winner.