Venom Vision: Closer options for the 2014 season
You know the old adage that numbers sometimes don’t tell the story? Well here’s one for you: the D-backs have the seventh-best bullpen ERA (3.31) in baseball. That’s awfully hard to believe considering they’re also second in baseball in blown saves (27).
As mentioned last week, aging arms J.J. Putz and Heath Bell — and their combined 12 blown saves — will be on the payroll next season. But based on durability concerns and recent performance, it’s hard to believe either will be major candidates to be the team’s ninth-inning guy in 2014.
So if it’s not them, then who?
Maybe it’s Brad Ziegler, who has 11 saves in 13 chances since taking over the role on a full-time basis in July. He doesn’t throw hard, but he induces a lot of ground ball outs and it takes a lot to score on him.
Maybe it’s David Hernandez, the long-rumored closer of the future. He’s battled command issues most of the season to the point he was sent down to Triple-A in August. However, since being called back up on Sept. 1, the 28-year-old has thrown seven scoreless innings with just two walks and two hits allowed.
Or maybe it’s 23-year-old Matt Stites. The right-handed reliever was acquired in the Ian Kennedy deal, and he’s been awesome in the minor leagues. In 2011, he had an ERA of 0.74 with 60 strikeouts in 48.2 innings. This season, he has an ERA just over two with 14 saves and nearly a strikeout per inning. D-backs scout Bill Gayton compared him to the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel, and whether he starts next season on the 25-man roster or not, Stites is certainly a guy to keep your eye on.