Arizona Diamondbacks: Familiar Face Could Take Over Closer Role
By Leilani Fitzpatrick
The Arizona Diamondbacks are looking for a new closer after they designated Brad Boxberger for assignment. These are their top 5 closer candidates.
The Arizona Diamondbacks ended the 2018 season somewhat woefully, and this upcoming season looks headed for a partial rebuild. With the major loss of Paul Goldschmidt looming behind them, the team turns its focus to other, more pressing questions.
Who will be their #1 relief pitcher? Who can they rely on to get the last outs when they’re ahead? In 2018, Brad Boxberger filled that role, mostly unsuccessfully. 2019 is different, and that role leaves a hole to be filled. Discussed below, in brief, are the top five candidates for that position.
Scott is an acquisition from the Red Sox who held an 8.10 ERA in nine games this past season. He pitched for the Sox for three years, pitching his most games in 2017- a total of 57, according to ESPN.com.
Scott has history with both general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo, so there’s that could push him faster up the depth chart, but he has plenty to prove to the rest of us. The results of his spring performance will likely determine how much he gets used in the ‘pen, but if he can snag a spot, there’s no telling what might happen during the season.
Scott won’t be the guy on Opening Day, but he is someone who could capitalize on the fickleness of bullpen performance and move his way up during the season.
Household name Andrew Chafin has had varied ERA’s over the past five years with the Snakes, from 2.76 to 6.75 to 3.86. This past season, he held a 3.10 ERA with 17 holds, making him a viable contender for the closer position.
As our own TC Zencka recently noted, Chafin has been one of the busier relievers league-wide over the past two seasons, and there is some concern over his habitual breaking down in the second half. Teams want reliability from their closers, so Chafin will have to prove his consistency before being handed the role.
T.J. McFarland, according to MLB.com, was “a key cog in the bullpen” in 2018, with an even 2.00 ERA. His “versatility was a huge plus,” as he was used in both short and long relief. Because of this past season’s ERA being the best of his past six years as a major leaguer, McFarland will certainly be used, in one way or another.
That said, he doesn’t have the velocity typically associated with the closer’s role. It’s rare for someone with McFarland’s strikeout rates to pitch in the ninth inning, but so long as he keeps getting outs, he’ll remain in the conversation.
Hirano made his debut with the Snakes on March 29th, 2018, and despite a rocky preseason start, established himself as a seventh-inning relief pitcher. This past season he held a 2.44 ERA with 32 holds and 3 saves. When the bullpen depleted in the second half of the 2018 season, he was as strong as ever, even holding the longest scoreless streak for Arizona, with 26 games and 22.2 innings of no-run ball.
In August and September, AZSnakePit’s Jim McLennan noted that “Arizona relievers had a 4.63 ERA,” while “Hirano’s was 2.70.” He looks to be the runner-up, as he notably “had the best season Arizona has seen in fifteen years” from a relief pitcher.
Everyone knows of Archie Bradley as a starter, but it looks like this season his role will shift into that of a closer. Last season he put up a 3.64 ERA with 34 holds, and three saves (MLB.com). It looks to be just one of the major changes the Diamondbacks intend to put in place this season. Plus, there’s this from the man himself. Welcome to this side of the game, Archie!
The Arizona Diamondbacks have numerous closer candidates, and whoever they pick will signify the direction the team is headed to this season.