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Arizona Diamondbacks: Relief Acquisitions Essential For Stretch Run

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ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 22: Jake Diekman #41 of the Texas Rangers delivers against the Cleveland Indians during the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 22, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 5-0. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 22: Jake Diekman #41 of the Texas Rangers delivers against the Cleveland Indians during the eighth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 22, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won 5-0. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /
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The MLB trade deadline has come and gone, with the Arizona Diamondbacks serving as one of the more active teams before the non-waiver trade period expired. And while the moves they made weren’t flashy, they were essential for a contender in the stretch run.

Mike Hazen was active during the period’s final week. He first brought in Eduardo Escobar, fortifying the lineup with a bit of versatility. Then on the final day, he acquired former Arizona Diamondbacks reliver Brad Ziegler from the Miami Marlins and Jake Diekman from the Texas Rangers. Both solidify what had been a very good bullpen for much of the year.

Injuries have taken their toll on this starting staff all year. Taijuan Walker won’t pitch and Shelby Miller‘s return was short-lived. Clay Buchholz missed time, as did Robbie Ray. Luckily, though, the Diamondbacks have avoided taxing their bullpen completely, as they rank only 19th in reliever innings pitched. Nonetheless, Ziegler and Diekman should prove essential in allowing them to continue to roll out what has been an elite bullpen.

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Ziegler is a familiar face for the the D-Backs, having pitched for the club from 2012 to 2015. He got off to an abysmal start this year, but has been quite good for the past month or so. He’s pitched to a 0.64 ERA during that period. His skill set is one that should play really well for this team, given that he’s posted an absurd 74% groundball rate this year. For a defensively stout club like the Snakes, that’ll work. He’s given up quite a bit of hard contact (up over 40%), but as long as he’s getting the ball on the ground, he’s a splendid addition to the group.

Diekman has one big deterrent that comes along with him, and that’s a walk rate that’s up over five per nine innings. That’s not uncharacteristic of him, given that his walk numbers throughout his career have been relatively high. That number has gotten a bit better in the past couple of months, though he’s not a groundball type that can compensate for some of those walk issues. He does, however, come with good K numbers, with a strikeout rate over 11 per nine for the year. At the very least, he’s an additional arm for this ‘pen and one who can provide help in the middle innings.

This is a relief group that has been susceptible to struggles at times, even if their total body of work doesn’t necessarily indicate that. With Ziegler and Diekman, they grab a couple of guys who have been steady presences for their respective squads really throughout the year. Add these two to the likes of Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano, and Brad Boxberger at the backend, along with T.J. MacFarland and Andrew Chafin, and you have a really strong group. The bullpen should be a very reliable piece for them in the stretch run, and these two go a long way towards solidifying and adding depth to the relief corps.

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Ideally, you would’ve liked to see Hazen pursue some starting pitching, given the injuries and inconsistencies associated with the starting five. At the same time, given the price tags for some of these controllable starters, and the relatively unappealing rentals on the market, it was nice to see him hold off on surrendering too much for those types of pieces. We’ll see if the Arizona Diamondbacks are active at all in the waiver period, but if the rotation can pitch to its upside, they have one of the best bullpens in baseball to support the starting five. Brad Ziegler and Jake Diekman go a long way toward aiding in that.

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