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Arizona Diamondbacks – relievers gain improvement

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Welington Castillo (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Welington Castillo (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Reliever Jake Barrett of the Arizona Diamondbacks turned in an encouraging effort

For relievers of Arizona Diamondbacks, perhaps this was a case of too little, too late.

With the season nearly in the rear view mirror, this is the part of the campaign where manager Chip Hale said all of his pitchers are surveyed under a microscope. Roles for next season are to be determined as well as who stays and who goes.

Because two-thirds of the back end of the bullpen was traded in mid-season, Hale juggled his relievers and began to rely on Jake Barrett and Enrique Burgos in flipped roles as the closer and set-up.

To that end, both Barrett and Burgos were hit hard in their recent appearances. That prompted Hale to scale back their appearances in tight situations. At the same time, Hale wanted Burgos and Barrett to enter games in less stressful situations and retain their level of confidence.

That was the kind of opportunity in which Barrett pitched Sunday afternoon. Hale inserted the Arizona State University graduate in the seventh inning. At that point, the Arizona Diamondbacks held a seven-run lead, and Barrett cleanly retired the side on an economy of five pitches for his one inning of work.

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While the Arizona Diamondbacks cruised to an 11-2 victory over Cincinnati before 22,624 in Chase Field, Barrett’s seamless effort might be overlooked. In a game in which the Diamondbacks banged out 18 hits and burst out to a quick four run lead in the opening inning, trying to get the bullpen in order seemed a distant priority.

Sure, starter Archie Bradley turned in a strong effort, and remains in the mix for a rotation spot next season. While the bullpen continues to struggles as a whole, Barrett’s quick disposal of the Reds could mean more than just three outs in late August, meaningless game.

“Jake worked with (pitching coach Mike Butcher) on his arm angle, and we saw immediate results,” said Hale after Sunday’s game. “He was getting a better angle on his fastball, and the ball was coming out of his hand much better.”

Plus, there was a noticeable difference detected by his catcher.

“That’s what I heard,” said Welington Castillo about Barrett’s improved arm angle. “He had much better fast ball command. With Jake, he has to get it, let it rip it, and that’s how he gets results.”

Ditto for left-hander Patrick Corbin, Hale reported.

Demoted to the bullpen after a 4-11 start to his season, Corbin was equally efficient Sunday. In finishing the final two innings, Corbin retired all six hitters he faced, and struck out two. That included Joey Votto looking to end the end.

From an offensive standpoint, the Arizona Diamondbacks broke out the bats. Michael Bourn, A. J. Pollock and Chris Owings all chipped in with a three-hit afternoon. Also, Castillo drove in four runs with a 2-for-3 game, and increased his season RBI total of 54, fourth best on the team.

On deck

The Arizona Diamondbacks hit the road for an eight-game trip. Up first are two with the Giants at AT&T Park.

After a Monday off, look for Zack Greinke (11-4, 4.29 ERA) to take on righty Johnny Cueto (14-4, 2.86). On Wednesday afternoon, the Giants start lefty Matt Moore (8-10, 3.95), who lost a no-hit bid in his last start with two outs in the ninth. The Diamondbacks have not named a starter at this point.

Next: Campos could be future long reliever

The trip continues with three against the Rockies in Denver, and three with the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

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