Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald hoping to add to pitching repertoire in Year 8

Mar 5, 2024, 12:12 PM

The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” doesn’t translate to Arizona Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald, who is looking for ways to evolve his craft entering Year 8.

One way to do just that is by adding another pitch to his repertoire.

Having relied on two pitches throughout his career — the four-seam fastball and sweeper — Sewald is hoping to add a changeup to the mix. So far, the returns have been promising.

“I’m 1-for-1. I got somebody out on it the other day, so it’s the greatest pitch of all time,” Sewald told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta with a laugh. “We’re going to give it more of a sample size than one batter and then we’re going to go from there. If you’re not evolving or getting better in this league, you’re going to get passed up.

“I don’t think I need another pitch, but I think it would be nice to have another plus-pitch, so we’re going to work on it and we’re going to see if we can think we can continue to use it and continue to work on it.”

Sewald should have more than enough opportunities to work on his changeup throughout the remainder of spring training.

After that, it’ll be decision time for the 33-year-old closer, who has no problem moving on from the pitch if there’s low confidence or the potential to hurt the team.

Because at the end of the day, he’s made a career out of working off those two pitches.

Following four seasons with the New York Mets (2017-20) and a little more than two seasons with the Seattle Mariners (2021-23), Sewald found himself in the desert following Arizona’s midseason trade with the latter.

Despite blowing a save in his second appearance with the D-backs, Sewald dug in, recording 13 saves and just one other blown save with a 3.57 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in the next 20 regular season games.

He added one win, six saves, a hold and a blown save across 13 postseason games.

“If (the changeup is) not good enough, then I’ll scrap it and I’ve been pretty good with the two that I have,” Sewald said. “I have not been an All-Star and I would like to have All-Star numbers and All-Star caliber stuff. If I can take a 1% leap, a 5% leap into being a better pitcher and I can get something like that, that would be fantastic.

“I’m going to be facing guys for the 10th to 12th time since I made this change in my career and kind of turned the corner,” the closer added. “It would be nice to have a third pitch as you face guys and kind of show them something different. … If you only have two pitches — not that I can’t do it — it’s just a little bit more of a challenge. It would be nice to have something else.”

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Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald hoping to add to pitching repertoire in Year 8