Diamondbacks could use deadline to bring stability to bullpen
With the trade deadline quickly approaching, the Arizona Diamondbacks have some choices to make.
Despite losing some big pieces from last year’s roster, the team has managed to hold its own this season.
As of Saturday night, they are only 2.5 games out of a wild card spot.
But if the D-backs do decide to add pieces before the deadline, an under the radar position they should look to fill is a long-term closer. It’s a spot general manager Mike Hazen hasn’t found a successful suitor for.
Should the D-backs make a big move before Wednesday’s deadline, such as trading Zack Greinke or Robbie Ray, Hazen should target an impact bullpen arm if a big deal comes to fruition.
That’s because in the three years under Hazen since Oct. 2016, the team has relied on two journeymen and one outcast from Tampa Bay.
That has come back to bite Hazen each season, as all three closers went through poor stretches that have hurt the D-backs.
The projection of Hazen’s closers holds true today as current closer Greg Holland continues to struggle.
After blowing his fifth save Friday, Holland has only converted 17 saves in 22 opportunities this season.
While five blown saves doesn’t seem terrible, Holland’s season hasn’t been the most stable. His ERA has increased with each month of the season.
Brad Boxberger, who closed for the D-backs during the 2018 season, put up even worse numbers.
Last season he was credited with eight blown saves, seven losses and an ERA of 4.39.
The two prior seasons before joining the D-backs, Boxberger hadn’t converted a single save and pitched under 30 innings in both 2017 and 2016.
Before Boxberger, the team depended on Fernando Rodney to close out games in 2017, the team’s first season under Hazen.
Rodney is another Hazen closer who struggled to keep his ERA down. By the end of the 2017 season, his ERA was 4.23.
But this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering he has struggled with his ERA for the majority of his 17-year career. Rodney’s had a flurry of seasons with a respectable average, but over the course of his career, he’s had 11 seasons with an ERA over four.
As a member of the D-backs, Rodney also blew six saves. His K/9 rate, however, was pretty high, finishing the season with a 10.6 average.
As he did in the 2019 MLB Draft, Hazen should continue to obtain young arms that can grow with the team.
Reports suggest that playoff contenders like the Yankees, Phillies, Twins and Astros are eyeing Greinke and Ray.
All four teams have strong farm systems and the D-backs may have their pick at top prospects should they deal their front of the rotation arms.