Sports on Earth: Bullpen a question for D-backs heading into postseason

Sep 28, 2017, 7:50 PM | Updated: 8:16 pm
Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run against Arizona Diamo...

Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run against Arizona Diamondbacks' Jake Barrett (33) during the eighth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug 13, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Other than Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning and Archie Bradley in the eighth inning, roles in the Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen have been in flux.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has a limited amount of time to figure out who will pitch in what spots in the 2017 NL Wild Card game at Chase Field in Phoenix.

In a recent article from Sports On Earth, Anthony Castrovince discussed nine questions surrounding teams that have already clinched a spot. The D-backs’ bullpen cracked the list.

But the need for Greinke to pitch deep into that game — and the need for every other D-backs starter to do the same should Arizona advance — is particularly pointed given the state of this bullpen. Archie Bradley was a multi-inning monster much of the year, but lately he’s had to assume more of a traditional setup role out of necessity in a ‘pen short on consistent options and defined roles. Fernando Rodney can close it out… or he can totally implode. Depends on the day.

As Castrovince pointed out, the Diamondbacks’ bullpen entered Thursday with one of the lowest reliever ERAs in the NL at 3.83. But the second half has been a different story. In 219 innings, the D-backs’ bullpen has the seventh-highest ERA (4.27) in the senior circuit.

Since the All-Star Break, in terms of giving up earned runs, Rodney has been one of the team’s best relievers. In 25 games, Rodney has a 2.70 ERA but he has blown eight saves. Bradley, with a 1.76 ERA, has continued to get the job done.

The emergence of rookie Jimmie Sherfy has certainly helped. The 25-year-old, who was called up from the Reno Aces to the big leagues in late August, has yet to give up an earned run in 11 games (10.2 innings pitched).

Sherfy could pitch in the seventh, but nobody else has consistently gotten outs.

Maybe Lovullo can play matchups in October, but the level of concern has to grow after every poor outing by guys like T.J. McFarland, Andrew Chafin, Jake Barrett and David Hernandez.

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Sports on Earth: Bullpen a question for D-backs heading into postseason