Arizona Diamondbacks – Burgos could emerge as closer


Enrique Burgos, reliever for the Arizona Diamondbacks, has put up impressive numbers since his recall from the minors

For a bullpen in search of quality, the Arizona Diamondbacks may have found a complementary pair.

When the current season began, the trio of Daniel Hudson, Tyler Clippard and Brad Ziegler figured heavily in manager Chip Hale’s plans. Signed as a free agent just before the start of spring training, Clippard was brought in to shut down opponents in the seventh inning. Coming off an encouraging season after Tommy John surgery, Hudson was slotted as the eighth inning, set-up reliever. Ziegler was retained as the closer.

In all, Hale said in spring training this trio was as good as any in the game. Numbers clearly supported this observation. Hudson topped the Arizona Diamondbacks last season in holds, and Ziegler entered the season with 28 saves in 28 save opportunities. That tied the club mark established by J. J. Putz (2011-12).

Then, this fragile house of cards unraveled.

By late July, Clippard was dealt to the New York Yankees and Ziegler was traded to the Boston Red Sox. Now, Hale searched the organization for replacements and appears Enquire Burgos, as the set-up reliever and Jake Barrett, as the closer, have emerged. However, could these roles be reversed?

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Since recalled from Triple-A Reno on July 2, Burgos has put up numbers which turn heads. Quiet and removed from the radar screen, Burgos arrived in Chase Field with a different look and more power.

“I went back to minors to work on my fast ball command,” he said in the clubhouse before Wednesday’s game with the Mets. “In spring training, I didn’t have any command, and I went down to work on that and mechanics. Now, my fast ball is back where I want it.”

Burgos was one of the last cuts in spring training, and left for Reno with a fast ball clocked in the low 90s. Recalled in early July, Burgos reported his command is much better and velocity increased to the upper 90s. At the same time, Hale said Burgos, and all pitchers, are auditioning for 2017 spots, but Burgos seems to have the inside track as the closer.

Numbers show the improvement, and Burgos’ commitment.

Coming into Wednesday’s game, the 6-4, 250-pound native of Panama City, Panama has not allowed an earned run in his previous 12 appearances. That equates to one run in 11.1 innings. Since his recall, Burgos’ ERA of 0.89 is third best among National League relievers.

As well, Burgos’ strikeout ratio continues to be among the best in the league. Averaging 10.83 punch-outs per nine innings, that is fifth best in franchise history. Over his last 15 outings, Burgos is averaging 11.40 strikeouts per nine innings. At the same time, he allowed only two-extra base hits over his last 17.2 innings.

“Burgos came in and took advantage of the situation,” Hale said. “He worked on his fast ball command. Hitters no longer can sit and wait on his secondary pitches.”

Burgos has a history of closing. In 2014, he recorded 29 saves in 30 opportunities for Advanced-A Visalia. In that season, he went 2-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 55 appearances.

More numbers

In his sixth major league season, Paul Goldschmidt is moving into elite company. Numbers through his first 738 career games puts the first baseman alongside icons of the game.

Though these 738 games, Goldschmidt has 800 hits, 192 doubles, 134 home runs, 486 RBIs and 444 walks. He is one of three players all-time to reach these numbers in their initial 738 games. The other two are Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig.

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Goldschmidt is also one of five players, through the 738 games, with at last 800 hits, 486 RBIs and 444 walks. The other four are Frank Thomas, Mickey Mantle, Williams and Gehrig.