The Arizona Diamondbacks return to Chase Field Monday to start a seven game home stand against two clubs that are under the .500 mark in the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres, and it’s a set of games they need to gain some separation between themselves and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West race.
Getting a lead in games is important, but so is keeping it. So, it is imperative the team has confidence in the pitcher that comes in to close out games, and right now Brad Ziegler seems to be that guy.
“Well he came in and got me five ground balls [Sunday] and that’s what I was looking for,” said manager Kirk Gibson before Monday’s game. “I’ve told you guys that it’s somewhat by committee right now, kind of make my decision as it goes on within the game, although I did tell Ziggy that I was thinking he would be that guy.”
Ziegler earned his fourth save in four chances in a win at San Francisco Sunday, allowing one unearned run in the ninth. All four of his save opportunities have come since July 4.
The D-backs are tied with the Cubs for the Major League lead in blown saves with 19. Gibson feels confident with Ziegler in that role, but didn’t completely dismiss the idea that he could still go “closer by committee” or base it on the in-game situation.
“So that’s where I am right now. If we’re in the eighth inning and we’ve got two outs or we’ve got one out and the bases are loaded, who’s the best guy on our team for that situation? It’s Brad Ziegler,” the skipper said. “Bring him in and hope he gets the double-play ball and then he goes out and throws the ninth.”
Ziegler is a good choice, according to the numbers thus far and the small sample size with him in the closer role this season. He has not allowed an earned run in six straight outings, and among all relievers since 2008 with a minimum of 200 games he is first with 79 ground ball-induced double-plays.
But again, Gibson leaves the door open as only he can.
“I mean it’s not etched in stone. I mean, recently, that’s the way I’ve done it. I’ve kind of looked at how we’re going to get through the lineups and I’ve used virtually anybody in any situation.”