Analysts remain worried about the Diamondbacks’ bullpen

Mar 28, 2017, 9:23 PM | Updated: 10:07 pm

Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Fernando Rodney throws against the San Diego Padres during the ...

Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Fernando Rodney throws against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning of a spring baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Thursday, March 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

By sheer odds, the Arizona Diamondbacks won’t be as bad as a year ago.

Baseball analysts know that health and bad luck played a part in winning 69 games in 2016, and there’s even reason to believe the D-backs could end up quite competitive. But searching for one reason to reel back any bold predictions for Arizona to surprise in 2017 will start with a discussion about the bullpen.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden listed it as the D-backs’ one big question for the upcoming year.

You should worry about this team’s bullpen. They have a lot of question marks after you get past Randall Delgado and Jake Barrett. They’re hoping veteran closer Fernando Rodney has 30 to 40 bow-and-arrow celebrations left in his arsenal, and they also have to hope for improvements from Silvino Bracho, Zack Godley and Andrew Chafin if they want to be competitive.

Bowden’s colleague, Jayson Stark, lists off the same round of questions in his column “Why your team won’t win the World Series.”

His concerns target Rodney, especially.

Because that 6.16 ERA he had in the second half (of 2016) wasn’t scary at all. But somebody has to close. So why not the 25th-ranked closer in baseball, according to ESPN’s trusty fantasy gurus?

This team actually has more upside than it’s being given credit for. And new GM Mike Hazen is already restoring order and new-age wisdom where once there was, well, the opposite. But if Fernando Rodney is your closer, at age 40, guess what? You’re not winning the World Series.

Fair enough.

As it stands, Arizona still has to tinker with the bullpen before Opening Day, and minor injuries to — and the recoveries from those injuries by — Barrett, Bracho and left-hander Steve Hathaway complicate matters, at least as far as opening day is concerned.

Offseason additions Tom Wilhelmsen and J.J. Hoover have question marks surrounding themselves, but at least they have successful MLB seasons under their belts.

Adding to the unknowns, converted starters like veteran Jorge De La Rosa and youngster Archie Bradley give manager Torey Lovullo options.

Whether those options pan out are anyone’s guess until the regular season begins.

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