Brad Ziegler at closer? Why not?

Jul 12, 2013, 10:36 PM | Updated: Jul 13, 2013, 4:53 am

A manager calling to the bullpen to summon his closer is a common baseball event that’s been glorified by Hollywood forever.

Here’s the way it’s supposed to go:

The good guys are up one run, bases loaded, two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The skipper goes out to the mound to pull the veteran starter, who’s just got nothing left in the tank despite his pleas to “finish what he started.” The skipper stands strong and takes the ball, motioning to the bullpen to bring in the closer.

The closer is 6-foot-5, has a chiseled jaw and muscles in places where most people don’t have places. He’s got some trademark facial hair pattern and an intimidating nickname like “The Duke” or “Wild Thing.”

The crowd goes nuts as his entrance song blares over the public address system — usually something like “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC or “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. The closer then proceeds to strike out the opposing team’s best hitter on three pitches — all fastballs, increasing in velocity on each pitch until they reach triple digits on the radar gun. The good guys win, and the closer is the hero.

That’s the way it’s supposed to happen. But that isn’t a reality for most teams in Major League Baseball, least of all the Arizona Diamondbacks, who remain in first place in the National League West despite a mind-boggling total of 19 blown saves in the first 93 games of the season.

To remain in first place, something’s got to change. And to manager Kirk Gibson’s credit, something did change Thursday night. Instead of going with past closers J.J. Putz (5-of-10 on save opportunities) or Heath Bell (two consecutive blown saves), Gibson went with submarining right-hander Brad Ziegler.

Ziegler hardly fits the above description of a closer. He’s tall, but skinny. He looks more like Mike White, the actor who played Ned Schnebly in “School of Rock”, than he does a major league closer. He may have never hit 90 mph on the gun, let alone 100 and he’s more likely to induce a ground out than a strikeout.

Who cares?

The Diamondbacks need somebody who can get people out in the ninth inning, not somebody who throws hard. Brad Ziegler gets hitters out. Opposing hitters are batting just .213 against him this season and reaching base at a .281 clip.

The Diamondbacks need somebody who keeps the ball in the ballpark. Bell, Putz and David Hernandez have combined to serve up 19 home runs this season. Ziegler has surrendered 12 — in his entire six-year career!

I’m not saying that Brad Ziegler should be the permanent closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s proved to be too valuable in other roles for that to be the case. But until either Putz, Bell or Hernandez start proving they can retire opposing hitters, or even better, general manager Kevin Towers goes out and acquires a reliable ninth-inning option, Ziegler should be the guy.

Arizona Diamondbacks

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)...
Alex Weiner

D-backs recall Opening Day 3B Drew Ellis, option IF Yonny Hernandez

The Arizona Diamondbacks recalled third baseman Drew Ellis from Triple-A Reno, the team announced Sunday morning.
11 hours ago
Daulton Varsho #12 and Ketel Marte #4 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate after scoring in the 10...
Associated Press

D-backs win 3rd-straight in Chicago behind extra innings win over Cubs

Daulton Varsho hit a three-run double in the 10th and scored on a throwing error to give the D-backs to a 7-6 comeback win over the Cubs.
1 day ago
Arizona Diamondbacks' Josh Rojas pauses near home plate after lining out to Colorado Rockies first ...
Alex Weiner

D-backs’ Josh Rojas exits game after getting hit in hand with pitch vs. Cubs

Diamondbacks 3B Josh Rojas exited Saturday's game in the first inning after getting hit by a pitch by Cubs lefty Justin Steele.
1 day ago
The Wrigley Field home plate is covered with the rain tarp as a baseball game between the Chicago C...
Arizona Sports

Diamondbacks game against Cubs delayed due to inclement weather

The Diamondbacks game on Saturday against the Cubs was delayed due to inclement weather in Chicago, the Cubs announced on Twitter.
1 day ago
Arizona Diamondbacks' Josh Rojas celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run home run during ...
Alex Weiner

D-backs power surge: Rojas, Peralta belt 5 combined HRs in win vs. Cubs

The ball was jumping off the bats of the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 10-6 win over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday.
2 days ago
Zac Gallen #23 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a pitch during the first inning in the game again...
Alex Weiner

RHP Zac Gallen prides himself on being ‘stopper’ for D-backs

Diamondbacks pitcher Zac Gallen has seven starts this season and allowed more than a run in only one of them.
2 days ago