Aug 3, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Brad Ziegler (29) throws to the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning at Nationals Park. The Arizona Diamondbacks won 6 – 4. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
When the 2015 season began, it was hard to know what could be expected of Brad Ziegler. After all, he was a 35-year old reliever coming off a down season and had undergone microfracture surgery on his left knee. To say Ziegler has bounced back for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015 is a bit of an understatement. Not only has he been outstanding but he also changed roles in May to become the team’s stopper. Ziggy hasn’t been outstanding this season, he has been dominant.
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Normally, you don’t think of a side-arming pitcher who tops out in the low 80’s with his fastball as being dominant. However, the numbers speak for themselves. His 1.17 ERA is the fourth lowest among relievers with at least 30 appearances but his 46 1/3 innings pitched are more than the three guys whose ERA is lower (Wade Davis, Carter Capps and J.P. Howell). He has given up only 25 hits and 14 walks for a WHIP of .84, slightly above Davis and Capps at .81 but much better than Howell’s 1.26. Opponents are hitting .159 off Ziggy better than Capps and Howell but slightly below Davis whose BAA against is .148. There are other relievers that have better numbers in some categories that are well-known (Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances) and not as well-known (Pedro Strop and Charlie Furbush). But as a whole, you can argue that Zielger has been better than just about every reliever in the game except for Davis.
It’s not fair that a guys like Ziegler or Mark Melancon are not considered dominant like Betances and Aroldis Chapman. So what if they don’t have dazzling heat that blows hitters away or has a split that drops like a rock. The outs still count the same in the record books. There are no style points added to your team’s victory total when you strike out the side as opposed to retiring the side on three fly balls. There hasn’t been anyone better in the National League at shutting down the opposition out of the bullpen than Brad Ziegler.