Arizona Diamondbacks’ general manager Kevin Towers put a lot of emphasis into building a strong, reliable bullpen when he took the job in 2010. Entering his third season at the helm, it’s apparent nothing has changed.
Heath Bell was acquired from the Marlins, Matt Reynolds came over from Colorado, and Tony Sipp landed in Arizona as a result of the Trevor Bauer trade. The trio is joining an already formidable relief pitching corps in J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler and Josh Collmenter.
“Hernandez and Bell are very similar animals in size and what they bring to the table — mid-90s fastball with plus breaking ball, no fear and attack,” Towers said Tuesday. “Now with Reynolds and Sipp, we’ve got a big tall left-hander with a downward angle that could get both lefties and righties out. Sipp who’s got a plus slider, he’s very tough on lefties.
“Collmenter, gives you that change-up kind of over the top almost looks like a left-hander. Ziegler gives you the submarine sinker look.”
In 2012, the D-backs’ relievers posted a 3.28 ERA out of the pen, good enough for tenth in the bigs.
The arrivals of Reynolds and Sipp did more for the D-backs than just shake things up. Towers said his manager, Kirk Gibson, now has the advantage of picking from multiple lefty options, something he could not do last season.
“It gives Gibby an option early in the game and another one late in the game,” he said. “Last year with only one, he had to kind of pick and choose where he felt was the appropriate time to bring the guy in.”
The general manager said his goal was not to simply acquire left-handed pitchers, but pitchers that thrive against lefty hitters.
“It wasn’t just left-handers, we tried to identify the right left-handers that should be successful against lefties,” Towers said. “Reynolds is probably more of a guy that that could work through an inning a little bit earlier in the ball game, not to say he won’t pitch late in the game. But he could probably give you a little more length.
“Sipp’s been historically very good against lefties, maybe more of a left-on-left guy late in the game.”
Towers said his collection of arms in the bullpen will be able to provide solid relief any point of the game.
“I like their personalities; I think they’re all a bit quirky, a little bit different,” he said. “To me, when you get in jams, we’ve got several guys that could come in and have wipeout-type stuff where they could strike out two or three guys and get out of a jam.”
With a number of young players in the starting rotation, Towers stressed the importance of having a reliable bullpen to back them up.
“I think more clubs are more focused on bullpen that they were 10 or 15 years ago and especially if you’ve got young starters,” he said. “When you have (Tyler) Skaggs, (Patrick) Corbin, (Wade) Miley, you want to allow them to build up innings throughout the early part of their career and have a shut down bullpen to allow them … to keep that lead.
“I think people say I’m enamored with the ‘pen, well I am.”