Bullish bullpen leads the way for the Arizona Diamondbacks
With inconsistent performances by the offense and the starting rotation, the Arizona Diamondbacks continue to rely on their bullpen as a stalwart piece of their success this season.
The D-backs’ bullpen currently leads the National League with a 2.51 ERA, which is important considering the team whose bullpen lead the NL in ERA by July 4 has made the playoffs the last three seasons.
T.J. McFarland has quietly been excellent, leading all NL relievers with 54.1 innings pitched. Over his last nine games, the 29-year-old has posted a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings.
McFarland also has three outings this season where he pitched 4.0+ innings, which is tied with Zeke Spruill for the second-most by a reliever in club history.
Yoshi Hirano set the franchise mark for most scoreless games at 26, which was also the second-most ever by a Japanese-born pitcher.
He has a 1.10 ERA in his last 32.1 innings pitched, and his 20 Holds is a team record in the first half by a rookie.
Hirano is tied with teammate Archie Bradley for the most game appearances in the NL at 43, and ranks sixth in ERA at 1.40.
Meanwhile, Bradley has not allowed a run in 18 of his last 19 appearances, sporting a 0.53 ERA over that span. He is first in the NL with 23 Holds, which is the second-most for a D-back before the All-Star break behind only Brad Ziegler with 24.
Bradley has also not allowed an earned run in nine consecutive games.
On Friday, the D-backs got another vital piece to this bullpen back off the 60-day DL in right-hander Randall Delgado.
In 11 rehab appearances with Single-A Visalia and Triple-A Reno, Delgado was 1-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 11.1 innings pitched. The last time he appeared in a MLB game was July 15, 2017.
Delgado’s abilities as a long reliever out of the pen will be a sight for sore eyes to an overworked relief corps. As mentioned, Hirano, Bradley and Andrew Chafin are all ranked in the top five for relief pitching appearances this season, while McFarland is first overall in innings pitched.
It also remains to be seen how the starting rotation decisions by manager Torey Lovullo impacts the bullpen, with a possible addition of Shelby Miler or Clay Buchholz when he returns from injury.
Either pitcher could be an equally big addition to this taxed pen with the second half of the season looming.