Diamondbacks’ Paul Sewald feels like normal self after ‘adventures’ in 2023

Jun 21, 2024, 8:30 PM

Paul Sewald...

Paul Sewald #38 and Tucker Barnhart #16 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate a 6-4 win against the Detroit Tigers at Chase Field on May 19, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Paul Sewald Experience has meant two very different things from his first impressions with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season to his current form.

Sewald told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday it was frustrating to have seemingly every save opportunity become an adventure after he came over from the Seattle Mariners at the trade deadline. He usually got the job done with 13 saves to one blown save, but he managed to give D-backs fans Fernando Rodney flashbacks.

“I didn’t really pitch very well when I came over, so I’m disappointed that was Diamondbacks fans’ first scene of me,” Sewald said. “That’s not who I’ve been the last few years. And so that was a little frustrating to be quite an adventure it seemed every time I went out there.”

Sewald managed a 3.57 ERA in 17.2 regular season innings after the trade, but 16 hits and 10 walks put him in a lot of trouble. That started to shift in the final two weeks of September, and his postseason run until the World Series was downright dominant with eight scoreless innings.

The closer has pushed that success in 2024, although delayed as he missed the first five months with an oblique strain. Had Sewald not suffered the injury, he would be an easy pick for a National League All-Star spot (13.2 IP, 1 ER), something he set out to do entering the year.

He has recorded 14 straight scoreless outings, including nine saves, since May 9. A key: Sewald has cut his walk rate from 12.5% to 6.5% (entering Friday), more comparable to his Mariners days.

“It’s been a lot better to be my normal self, throwing a bunch of strikes, not getting behind in counts,” Sewald explained. “That’s how I need to pitch, that’s how everyone needs to pitch, but I know that’s how I need to pitch, and so it’s made me a lot more effective and a lot more efficient. Like you said, efficiency has been fantastic this year. Not so much last year.”

Sewald is likely not going the entire season without a blown save — related note, Tom Gordon has the record with 54 straight saves in 1998-99 — but feeling like himself to this degree after the injury continues to give the D-backs the luxury to map out games from the ninth inning.

Sewald returns to Philadelphia

Sewald picked up the save in Game 7 of the NLCS last October, stunning a Philadelphia Phillies crowd. As the D-backs return to Citizens Bank Park this weekend, Sewald recalled the experience of picking up the highest-stakes save of his career.

“That Game 7, that is probably the best day in my best baseball career,” Sewald said. “That was a pretty special night and a pretty special celebration. Satisfaction and gratification was at an all-time high that night. It was pretty special.”

Sewald produced a 1-2-3 ninth inning in Friday’s series opener against the Phillies.

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