Arizona Diamondbacks – Killer B’s destroying bullpen
By Mark Brown
The bullpen of the Arizona Diamondbacks continues to be a large concern
With only a few weeks remaining in the season, there is not much of a choice for Chip Hale, manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
With the season spinning out of control, a very volatile bullpen continues to pour gasoline on the Diamondbacks futures. With a combined ERA of close to six runs per nine innings, the bullpen has become both an embarrassment and a shame. When closer Brad Ziegler and then a slumping Tyler Clippard were traded, general manager Dave Stewart just flipped a lighted torch into the bullpen, and a dire situation became more instable.
Here in the fading weeks of a season so characterized by failure, disappointment and disaster, The Killer Bs have emerged on the scene to clearly exacerbate an already difficult situation.
With little choice, Hale continues to run out Jake Barrett, Enrique Burgos and Silvino Bracho with untimely regularity. All these three have done, the Killer B’s, is killed the Arizona Diamondbacks
One testament to the failure of management and principal decision-makers is composition of the 2016 pitching staff. For the season, and with still a month to play out, the club paraded 28 pitchers to the mound. That ties a franchise record set in the disastrous year of 2010, the third worst record in history with a mark of 65-97. That equaled the initial year in 1998 and only the 2014 season (64-98) and the 2004 (51-111) had lower records for one season.
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Part of the reason why the bullpen has performed so poorly could be a direct consequence of Hale’s ability manage his players. During the season, Patrick Corbin questioned why he was taken out of games when the lefthander believed he was strong and could continue. When asked about Corbin’s reaction, Hale told reporters in mid-season, “we talked about this, and let’s keep this in-house.”
Another case in point occurred in a game last Sunday, Aug. 28 against Cincinnati. Starter Archie Bradley turned in one of his better efforts of the season, and for the first time in his major league career, did not walk a hitter. With Bradley leading 6-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Hale decided on a pinch hitter. With runners on first and second and no outs. Hale sent Yasmany Tomas to the plate, and the Cuban-born outfielder delivered with a pinch, three-run home. That put Bradley comfortably into the lead, and a game he eventually won.
Pulled after six innings, Bradley wanted more. His pitch count was 84, and that was his lowest pitch count of the season. Against the Phillies on June 19 at Citizen Bank Park, Bradley threw 85 pitches.
“I wanted to go longer, and thought I had more in the tank,” Bradley said after that effort. “Good game for me, and something I can build and grow. Sure, you want to finish the game, but I was happy what I did.”
Plus, Hale has a penchant for using pitchers in spot situations. While this seems to be a conclusive reality in the game today, running relievers out for a hitter or two at time portends the use of a plethora of pitchers during one game.
For now, numbers from the Killer Bs are not encouraging. Coming into Saturday’s game with the Rockies, Barrett has an ERA of 4.17, Burgos lays at 5.73 and Bracho is 6.87. Combined, these three appeared in 110 games and, together, they earned five saves.
Next: Bullpen collapses in loss
While Hale says all pitchers continue to audition for next season, including the starters, a principal beginning to seek improvement in the bullpen may be a complete house-cleaning. Given the current track record of these Killer Bs, and others, that may not be a bad idea.