One of the major storylines for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season has been the team’s scuffling bullpen.
The D-backs lead the majors with 19 blown saves, and tinkered with multiple pitchers in the closer’s role.
But, despite the team’s best efforts to rectify the bullpen’s struggles, Arizona’s relief corps just can’t seem to right the ship.
“We’re trying to look every which way we can to try and hopefully find the right ingredient here,” D-backs’ GM Kevin Towers told reporters Thursday. “We’ve tried to look at road splits, home splits. It’s probably more short-term now. I think Gibby is just going to look at good matchups over the next four days.”
Arizona turned to Brad Ziegler to close things out Thursday. The right-hander, who has a 2.49 ERA this season, tossed a scoreless ninth to notch his second save of the season in a 5-3 win against the Brewers.
The health of J.J. Putz has certainly put a strain on the bullpen early. The 36-year-old was sidelined with a strained right elbow on May 8 and the team has been cautious with him upon his return. Heath Bell has blown five saves and boasts an ERA of 4.72 in 34.1 innings pitched this season. Set-up man David Hernandez has also failed to impress in the late innings, posting a 4.69 ERA with five blown saves in 40.1 innings.
While Towers and Co. have turned to a myriad of pitchers in the late innings, they still haven’t found the answer. He said the team has had lengthy internal talks about where to go from here.
“How do we fix it? What other things can we do to try and get guys in the right spots to where we can be more successful? Those are the type of conversations we’re having right now,” Towers explained.
While Towers won’t rule out exploring the trade market, he would prefer to exhaust his in-house options before looking to make a deal.
“We’re talking to clubs about a lot of different things, but that’s not to say that we’re not looking outside the organization,” Towers explained. “But I always try to give every opportunity to our internal options here and that’s not only guys that are currently on this ballclub or in our bullpen, as well as people that we have in our system and I think if those don’t work out then I think you need to be a little bit more aggressive externally.”
Towers said with approximately two-and-a-half weeks until the deadline, the D-backs still have time to evaluate all their options before deciding whether to pursue a trade.
But in the meanwhile, it appears they’ll continue to experiment with different closer scenarios.
“I think we’re in a position now that it’s kind of hard to anoint a closer based on where we’re at,” Towers stated.