The Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen may see a shakeup in roles for the second straight season.
The latest round of such rumors have begun their swirl after Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed blew his fifth save of the season Tuesday, spoiling the strong outing of starting pitcher Vidal Nuño in his debut for the team.
Reed’s earned run average spiked to 4.42 after the ninth-inning misadventure, in which he allowed a walk and a go ahead two-run home run to the Miami Marlins, who won 2-1.
Alarmingly, the home run was the ninth Reed has allowed this season — more than any relief pitcher in the National League and tying him with Texas Rangers pitcher Shawn Tolleson for the major league lead. At over 20 percent, his home run-flyball rate is also one of the highest in the majors among relief pitchers.
“That’s not how you want to start the ninth,” manager Kirk Gibson said of the walk Reed issued to Marlins second baseman Ed Lucas at the beginning of his frame of work. “You know, you’re asking for trouble.”
It was the leadoff walk that would set the table for what would transpire next.
Reed managed to shimmy by the Marlins 3-4 hitters, Giancarlo Stanton and Casey McGehee, with a strikeout and a lineout. But, after working centerfielder Marcell Ozuna into a 2-2 count, Reed left a fastball over the plate. It was driven into the camera well of the Chase Field centerfield wall.
“He missed his spot by about 18 inches,” Gibson said of the pitch. “He set up down and away.
“I think he threw 21 pitches (that inning) and he only threw two or three offspeed pitches. He’s got to mix his pitches in better.”
Reed has now allowed an earned run in 15 of his 38 appearances for the Diamondbacks this season. He is 1-5 with 20 saves.
Perhaps waiting in the wings for the closer job is Matt Stites, who was called up last month from Triple-A Reno. Touted as a hard-throwing closer, the right-hander features an upper-90s four-seam fastball, along with a slider and change-up.
Another candidate may be setup man Brad Ziegler, who has served in the role for both the Oakland Athletics and the Diamondbacks, with whom he collected 13 saves last year. Ziegler, however, has already blown four saves this season in his eighth-inning role and he holds great value as a situational groundball inducer.
Though being the pitcher of record for the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, Reed was unavailable for comment, having left the Chase Field premises before media entered the clubhouse after the game.