Brad Ziegler: Familiarity a good thing with the Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks added a familiar face prior to the MLB trade deadline on Tuesday.
Rejoining the D-backs’ roster is former closer Brad Ziegler, who spent the last two seasons with the Miami Marlins.
And while the rumors swirled around the league, Ziegler was left in the dark.
“I knew there were quite a few teams looking for a random bullpen arm, I didn’t know whose budget I fit into, who was willing to give up a prospect that the Marlins wanted to get a deal done,” Ziegler told Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station after the trade went official. “Arizona had definitely been mentioned, but the Marlins didn’t have a lot of communication with me at the time, I had no idea who was serious and who was not.”
In 2018, Ziegler is 1-5 with a 3.98 ERA. He’s pitched 52.0 innings (53 games) and has 10 saves on the season to go along with 37 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP.
He struggled a bit during the first half of the season, posting an ERA of 8.71 in the month of May, but really turned things on in July. In his last 28 appearances, Ziegler has a 0.64 ERA with opponents hitting .157.
The biggest difference? Health.
“For the last 14-15 months, I had been dealing with a little bit of a back injury and finally found a treatment plan that was working to take that pain away. I’ve felt basically pain free for the last two months,” the pitcher said. “When I get out on the mound, I’m not compensating for it, I’m not having to worry about ‘is this going to hurt when I throw this pitch,’ it’s just a matter of going out and being able to focus on executing a pitch.
“The Marlins used me in a really good role the last couple months. Played a little more matchups instead of just throwing me out there and saying ‘you got the ninth inning.’ They were able to handpick me in high-leverage situations and that’s helped a lot. And when Torey [Lovullo] called me today that’s how he said I’m going to keep being used.”
Ziegler joins a D-backs team whose bullpen has struggled as of late. In their most recent home loss to the Texas Rangers, the bullpen combined for five runs over 3.2 innings.
“I’ve had Brad Ziegler, I’ve been with him in the same clubhouse, I know the personality, I know the guy and he’s a tremendous leader,” Torey Lovullo said of the pitcher. We’re going to count on that and I don’t want that to change.
“But when he gets the ball I’m going to try to put him in the best situation possible for him to be successful. That’s really my ultimate goal every single night.”
The 38-year-old also rejoins a team where his named is etched in the record books.
He has the most consecutive saves for the franchise with 43 and leads all D-backs pitchers with 348 games played. Second place is 274.
In addition, Ziegler was one of two relievers named to the 20th Anniversary Team, something that is special to the pitcher.
“I’m grateful to be recognized by the fans and to understand that I’ve been gone for a couple years they didn’t forget the contributions that I made there,” Ziegler said of the honor. “It’s neat that a lot of the current guys are guys that I played with when I was there a few years ago are on the team as well and we can share that honor together.”
According to Ziegler, the plan is for him to join the team on Thursday.
In addition, the D-backs also acquired reliever Jake Diekman from the Texas Rangers.
“I can’t say enough about what our front office did, they addressed a lot of needs that we talked about and kind of put it in the right position for us,” Lovullo said of the recent moves. “I feel like the race car is ready, it’s in the slot, we have to go out and perform now.”