While on the air with Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Friday, Brad Ziegler said “sure” – he’d like to close.
“Why not,” Ziegler responded when asked about the opportunity to earn a save. “But I have no problem with Heath (Bell) being there now. I have no problem with David (Hernandez) being there. I realize I’m probably fourth in line (to close) on this team.”
The side-armer has had some opportunities to close earlier in his career, specifically late in his rookie season, when he recorded 11 saves with the Oakland Athletics. Ziegler lost the closer job the following season when he contracted the H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus and was forced to spend time on the disabled list.
“While I was out, Andrew Bailey took over, became the American League Rookie of the Year, and I think I’ve had one save opportunity,” Ziegler recalled.
Since being traded to the Diamondbacks in 2011, Ziegler has thrived in his new role — seventh-inning setup man and stranding inherited runners. He has posted historical groundball rate numbers and a 2.35 ERA in 111 innings of work while donning Sedona Red.
This season, he has seen his already-lofty groundball rate soar to 78.3%, which is by far the best in the majors. Mets reliever Scott Rice is next-best with a 67.8% mark.
“‘Groundball‘ is what I’m thinking, like, all the time,” he said of his approach.
“I love coming with runners on base and trying to bail the guy out who was in there before you,” the 33-year-old said of his current role. “I look at it like a puzzle. You know — ‘how do I get out of this with the least amount of damage and keep our team in the game or keep a lead?'”
The former closer also added a clarification.
“Obviously, everybody likes to start with a clean inning. I have no problem starting an inning with no one on base. I prefer it that way.”
Ziegler often gets that kind of inning now. He’d most always get that kind of inning as the team’s closer.