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Better Long Relief Option: Vidal Nuno or Randall Delgado?

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May 25, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Randall Delgado (48) throws to a St. Louis Cardinals batter during the seventh inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks 3-2 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Usually, Major League Baseball teams keep one pitcher that eats up innings either via a long relief role with the occasional spot start. These hurlers, despite being overlooked in favor of setup men and closers, are valuable assets in that they fill two roles. The Arizona Diamondbacks currently employ two of those guys, Vidal Nuno and Randall Delgado. Will the D’backs keep both guys with the big club as the season progresses and if so, who is the better option?

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Before being summoned to the rotation early last season, Josh Collmenter thrived at this position. To me, he was the most important D’back on the staff because he excelled no matter what was asked of him. Throw seven innings after a rain delay? No problem. Not pitch for five days and then be asked to go three-to-five innings? No problem. Delgado inherited that mantle after Collmenter and had mixed results. He struck out 86 batters in 77 2/3 innings but also allowed 71 hits and 35 walks. This year, the 25-year old right-hander has pitched in 20 games, all in relief, and has allowed 27 hits and eight walks in 25 1/3 innings while striking out 21. In Saturday’s win in Milwaukee, he notched his first career save with three innings of one-run ball.

Nuno has experienced a lot of hard luck during his brief Snakes’ stint. Since coming over from the Yankees last July, he has yet to earn a victory despite numerous solid outings. This includes an start on August 30th when he allowed a run on only two hits yet took the loss in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Rockies. This year he has ridden the Reno-to Phoenix shuttle a couple of times and has totaled 14 1/3 innings in three relief outings. Sunday was another unfortunate result for Nuno as he pitched brilliantly for 5 1/3 scoreless innings before surrendering the game-ending home run to the Brewers’ Martin Maldonado.

Can Arizona afford to keep both pitchers on the Major League level throughout this season? My answer would be yes because I believe the staff as a whole is going to be overworked. The rotation could become a bunch of six inning pitchers by the time August rolls around, taxing an already suspect relief corps. As to which pitcher is better in that role, I would have to say it is Nuno. Though he sports a smaller resume, the lefty seems to be a bit more consistent in this role. Nuno may not have the strikeout potential of Delgado, but he walks hitters at a much lower rate.  I’d feel more comfortable with Nuno as the main long relief option with Delgado being a second long man out of the bullpen.

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