Diamondbacks: Is Sean Poppen the savior of the bullpen?
By Alvin Garcia
On Sunday, right-hander Sean Poppen was reactivated off the disabled list by the Diamondbacks. The pitcher was on the injured list due to right shoulder inflammation. Poppen has tossed six innings in 2022 with a 1.50 ERA. In this small sample size, the right-hander struck out only 13% of the time and walked 23.5 percent. Also, he posted a .222 BABIP, an 83.3% strand rate, and a 0% HR/FB rate. But again, these stats are only on six innings of work.
Last season, he had a 5.16 ERA between the Pirates, Rays, and Diamondbacks. In addition, Poppen had a 23.6% strikeout rate, an 8.2% walk rate, and a 48.6% groundball rate. His lowest career ERA is 4.70 from the short 2020 season. The 28-year-old is mostly a sinker and slider pitcher. So far this season, his sinker (averaging 94.5 mph) has a .091 batting average.
The bullpen has struggled recently, especially the team's closer, Mark Melancon. In the ninth inning, the veteran allowed three runs in Saturday's game, bumping his ERA to 8.49 and 2.143 WHIP. Both losses against the Cubs were close. While the offense didn't provide any run support, Arizona's bullpen blew it to a Cubs team that is not great this year.
The set-up man, Ian Kennedy, is not doing that great either. While his ERA looks better, sitting at a 3.45, he has allowed 15 hits (1 HR), 7 runs (6 earned), has walked 9 and has struck out 10 in 15.2 innings pitched.
So, is Poppen the savior of the bullpen?
No, he is not. Sean Poppen is a pitcher that will not be able to sustain a low ERA. Also, his career-high in innings pitched was last year with only 22.0. The only stat comforting with Poppen is that he doesn't allow many home runs, with a 1.5% in 44.2 career innings pitched. But, he will not replace Kennedy or Melancon, especially in a high-leverage situation. So, what is Arizona doing here? Who knows.
Meanwhile, we will have to watch D-Backs games without the "Cerveza."
Seth Beer was optioned to Triple-A Reno to make room for the right-hander Sean Poppen. Beer was struggling in the plate lately, slashing 210/.301/.284, a significant downgrade of Beer's numbers at the beginning of the season. Beer was the opening day's hero but has been in a terrible slump since then. He went 2-for-42 from April 24 to May 14.