The Arizona Diamondbacks seem to have fixed their issue at closer. That doesn’t mean they’ve fixed their bullpen problems though.
The D-backs offseason, led by new general manger Kevin Towers, was spent completely revamping a bullpen that finished dead last in the majors in ERA last season. Out was a huge home run hitting third baseman with a lot of strikeouts, Mark Reynolds, and in were two bullpen pitchers, David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio, who they hoped would rack up the strikeouts. Gone was Chad Qualls, last year’s closer, and in was veteran JJ Putz.
Though the extreme bullpen makeover was extensive, through the first few weeks of the season the results are starting to look about the same. Sure, Putz is 3-for-3 in save opportunities but the unit as a whole has the second worst ERA in the bigs at 6.17 (more than three times higher than the best bullpen in the game). It also happens to be .43 runs higher than they finished in 2010.
Mickolio has already become a casualty of rough start being sent down to Triple-A Reno in favor of Esmerling Vasquez. The same Esmerling Vasquez that finished last year with a 5.20 ERA and 38 walks in 53.2 innings.
Last year’s bullpen was a revolving door between pitchers coming in and out of games and being called up and down from the minors. While Towers seems to have addressed the closers spot it looks like there may be a lot more holes to patch before his job is done. It’s early in the season and maybe these young arms can turn it around, but after 11 games, things are looking awfully familiar — emphasis on awful — in the bullpen.