ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Importance of D-backs RHP Drey Jameson’s bullpen role evident early

Apr 2, 2023, 10:33 AM | Updated: 10:34 am

Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Drey Jameson (99) reacts during a regular season game between t...

Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Drey Jameson (99) reacts during a regular season game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers on March 31, 2023, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

On a night when Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly was pulled in the fourth inning, RHP Drey Jameson saved much of the rest of the bullpen on Friday.

Jameson bridged the gap to the eighth inning, allowing only one run, as back-end relievers Andrew Chafin and Scott McGough combined for 23 pitches in a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A day later, in a 10-1 loss in L.A., D-backs starter Madison Bumgarner only went four innings, and Arizona stitched the rest of the game with three relievers.

Despite the lopsided series score of 19-5, Arizona remained in position to split the set with Chafin, McGough, Miguel Castro and Kyle Nelson options for the series finale on Sunday.

“We won this game because of Drey Jameson,” manager Torey Lovullo told reporters postgame Friday, airing on Bally Sports Arizona. “He settled in for us, got us out of a mini jam when he picked up Merrill in the fourth and pitched into the eighth inning.”

Jameson was not awarded a spot in the starting rotation out of camp, as Ryne Nelson secured the No. 5 starter role. But the rookie right-hander threw 66 pitches in his season debut, as Kelly continues to ramp up. He gives the D-backs an option to stack starter-caliber arms, especially important early in a season.

“Drey did a great job coming in,” Kelly said. “He’s going to get really big outs and be a really big player down in our bullpen.”

Jameson on Friday — against a Dodgers lineup that scored 18 combined runs on Thursday and Saturday — leaned on his slider and sinker to produce a total of 13 swings and misses, the most in the game, according to Statcast.

The Dodgers especially struggled against his slider with seven called strikes and eight whiffs on 34 pitches. Jameson struck out five batters, four on the slider.

He caused a flyout to end a two-on, two-out jam when he first entered in the fourth inning.

“I’m gonna take this role, I think it’s a cool opportunity in a way to put yourself in a different situation and maybe be uncomfortable for a minute,” Jameson told reporters before the season. “And I think that’s gonna help me as a starter in general to be able to develop and start attacking hitters a lot sooner than I have been.”

Jameson said he was told the team would keep him stretched out. Arizona used 14 starting pitchers last year, half of whom started at least seven games. And that was with a mostly healthy rotation containing three 30-game starters (Zac Gallen, Kelly and Bumgarner).

Despite his camp battle “loss” — if going to the pen constitutes as that — his role has already led to a win and set up the D-backs’ relievers to have a fresh final game at Chavez Ravine.

Sunday’s game starts at 1:10 p.m. on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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