Going forward, the bullpen of the Arizona Diamondbacks could save games by committee
This is an approach most major league managers wish to avoid. For Chip Hale, skipper of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the consequence here results out of necessity, and not comfort.
When the season began, Hale announced the back-end of his bullpen would consist of Tyler Clippard as the seventh inning reliever, Daniel Hudson as the set-up reliever and Brad Ziegler would retain his slot as closer. By the time of the recently concluded the non-waiver, trade deadline, which passed Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. eastern time, two-thirds of Hale’s construction was traded, and Hudson, who was roughed up in recent outings, was momentarily taken out of critical game situations.
The end result, as Hale and general manager Dave Stewart said over the recent weekend in Dodger Stadium, is an opportunity for other relievers to step forward, and make an impression. Translated, this could mean use of the bullpen is now by committee, but Hale says that’s not the case.
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“We’ll likely use guys in match-up situations,” Hale said before Monday’s game with Washington in Chase Field. “It will be who matches up well. It’s an opportunity for guys who are struggling right now to do it right.”
For now, Hale indicated Jake Barrett will inherit the closers spot, and Hudson, as well close as well. That could be a different scenario from Hale’s recent position in Los Angeles. In that series against the Dodgers, the manager pointed out Hudson’s recent maladies would be considered. In that regarded, Hale would go to Hudson in a less relevant situation, and apply an effort to restore confidence.
That’s exactly what happened Sunday in Dodger Stadium.
With the Arizona Diamondbacks down 11-3, Hudson came on in the seventh for Steve Hathaway, making his major league debut. After Hathaway hung a 3-2 curve over the plate and watched Corey Seager drive the pitch half-way up in the right field bleachers for a three-run bomb, Hale made the move to Hudson.
Coming into a situation where the game was not on the line and without the necessity of facing important hitters at critical times, Hudson simply relaxed. He proceeded to strike out Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke to end that inning.
For a reliable closer to emerge either for the remaining two months of this season or for the 2017 campaign, there is a certain personality which comes with the territory.
“Of the closers I’ve been around, there is a no-fear mentality,” Hale said. “These guys have a great deal of guts, and really short memories. They quickly forget what happened the day before, and face the task at hand.”
For now, Hale pointed out Barrett commands those personality traits. Coming into Monday’s home game with the Nationals, Barrett owns a 1-0 mark, three saves (currently the team leader) and a respectable 2.79 ERA in 44 appearances.
In the trainer’s room
Before Monday’s game, Hale said he expects right-hander Rubby De La Rosa to return to the rotation between now and the end of the season. At the same time, Hale discounted the notion that De La Rosa would ride out the season with short appearances as a reliever. De La Rosa was placed on the disabled list on May 27 with right shoulder inflammation. When he went down, De La Rosa was 4-5 and a 4.15 ERA in 11 appearances. That included eight starts.
“We’re building up (De La Rosa) to start again,” Hale said. “We want to build his pitch count up around 100.”
De La Rosa is expected to pitch batting practice to A. J. Pollock Tuesday on a back field at Salt River, spring training facility for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Regarding Pollock, Hale said Pollock has advanced through his rehab program to the point he could appear in a rookie league game in the short distance. Out since opening day with a fractured right elbow, Pollock was expected to miss the entire 2016 season, but could be on track to play at the major league level before the end of the current campaign.
Elsewhere, Socrates Brito, on the DL since June 24 with a fractured right toe, played in two games at Advanced-A Visalia. In these games, Brito went 1-for-9, and that was a two-run homer.