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D-backs’ bullpen in the middle rung of ESPN’s power rankings

Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Archie Bradley throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Sunday, June 18, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Describing the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bullpen with a word, even a phrase, isn’t easy.

At its best, there’s been individual consistency and even dominance among the best relievers. At its worst, the pen has faced quite a bit of turnover. Arizona dealt for reliever David Hernandez at the trade deadline to shore up some of those worries about the depth, but it’s still a bullpen with a lot to shake out for the stretch run.

Perhaps that’s why Dan Szymborski, special to ESPN, ranks the D-backs’ bullpen 17th in MLB.

I’m not a fan of Fernando Rodney at the closer spot given how erratic he is, but he’s probably better than his ERA, given that his FIP that stands at just over 3.00. Archie Bradley hasn’t gotten as much attention as a reliever despite actually succeeding, with Andrew Chafin top-drawer as well. David Hernandez doesn’t solve the team’s depth issues, but it’s still something.

Bradley (1.45 ERA), Chafin (2.58 ERA) and Rodney (4.66 ERA, seventh in MLB with 25 saves) have all established themselves in their roles.

Of late, Hernandez has continued his strong play — he has a combined 2.09 ERA between the Angels and the D-backs (in 2.1 innings pitch so far). And Jake Barrett has allowed just an earned run in 12.2 innings since returning to the majors following a prolonged injury recovery that began in spring ball.

After that, it’s been hard to find consistency.

J.J. Hoover and Tom Wilhelmsen began the year on the MLB roster before the latter was designated for assignment. Hoover, meanwhile, followed a strong spring training and April of 1.86 ERA pitching with ERAs of 5.59, 6.23 and 8.31 in the three months that followed.

Long reliever Randall Delgado (3.59 ERA) added length and even five strong starts before hitting the disabled list with an elbow injury.

Lefty T.J. McFarland (3.66 ERA) has taken over that role for now, but manager Torey Lovullo continues looking for better contributions from Jorge De La Rosa, Rubby De La Rosa and Hoover.

If things continue in their current direction, there’s reason to believe the D-backs will be feeling confident about their bullpen as the postseason nears. That said, just a single injury or an individual tailspin production-wise would be cause for concern.

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