Arizona Diamondbacks: Another questionable bullpen decision Tuesday

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 12: This time Carlos Gonzalez made the Diamondbacks bullpen his victim.
PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 12: This time Carlos Gonzalez made the Diamondbacks bullpen his victim. /

The Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen cannot afford to blow up right now

The seventh inning of Tuesday night’s Arizona Diamondbacks loss to the Colorado Rockies was a classic case of deja vu.

Manager Torey Lovullo did not fool the Rockies on Monday. He did not fool them on Tuesday either.

After the series opener, the D-backs’ first-year skipper told the media he made the decision to only use Archie Bradley if we had the lead — even with the game tied at two runs apiece late.

Tuesday presented the same predicament. Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has had a coming out party in September. Including yesterday’s contest, “CarGo” is hitting .451 with four home runs and 11 RBI in 10 games.

After starter Taijuan Walker completed six innings of two-run ball, Lovullo decided to go with left hander Andrew Chafin to start the seventh. The “Sheriff” has struggled mightily in the second half but he retired Charlie Blackmon.

I understand why Lovullo went to right hander David Hernandez to face D.J. LeMahieu. The Rockies second baseman has hit lefties significantly better compared to righties. However, LeMahieu singled the other way.

Then came the questionable decision. Carlos Gonzalez stepped up to the plate…and Lovullo let Hernandez face him.

Two things were working against that decision. This season, Gonzalez has hit righties (.273) 71 points higher than lefties (.202). In the third inning, Gonzalez homered off Walker and 11 of his 12 long balls have come against righties.

To be fair, Hernandez has better numbers off righties. But that should not have mattered in this situation. When the hitter is hot, you have to defer to his splits.

Unfortunately, a questionable decision backfired on Lovullo for the second straight night. Gonzalez crushed a 2-1 fastball deep to right-center above the pool, and the Rockies suddenly led 4-2.

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Bullpen Roles Moving Forward

Lovullo could have had Jorge De La Rosa warming to pitch to Gonzalez.

Either way, nobody really knows if De La Rosa would have retired Gonzalez or not. Manager’s make questionable decisions that could or could not work out.

Nobody can change the results of Monday or Tuesday night’s game.

What is inexcusable is continuing to use struggling relievers in close, meaningful games. Chafin’s second-half ERA is over seven, but Lovullo keeps going to him late in games. Jake Barrett has pitched well, but he is not a high leverage reliever.

Whether it is trust issues or fear of using a reliever multiple days in a row, those excuses do not fly this late in the season.

Archie Bradley leads all relievers in WAR and ERA. He always seems to get the job done. Bradley and for the most part Fernando Rodney are the only relievers that have established roles.

This time of year, innings have to be locked down. They cannot afford a great performance and then a down performance. Inconsistency is not an option.

Roles should be determined by who pitches well in the remaining games. Jorge De La Rosa made a statement last night, but will he continue to step up? Who else will? Hernandez has been solid in the seventh, but who pitches the sixth if the starter only goes five?

Let’s find out together, but when the game is on the line late, Archie can pitch to one batter (i.e. against Nolan Arenado Monday) and he will be fine.

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