Torey Lovullo: D-backs not moving off closer Paul Sewald in save situations

Jul 9, 2024, 12:00 AM

Paul Sewald prepares to pitch...

Relief pitcher Paul Sewald #38 of the Arizona Diamondbacks prepares to pitch during the ninth inning of the MLB game against the Atlanta Braves at Chase Field on July 08, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Braves defeated the Diamondbacks 5-4 in 11 innings. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Paul Sewald has been a lockdown closer for the Arizona Diamondbacks for much of this season. He also blew three saves in his last three opportunities, leading to a trio of losses as the D-backs fight for their NL Wild Card aspirations.

Sewald’s harrowing stretch continued Monday, as a two-run home run by Atlanta Braves catcher Sean Murphy tied the game with two outs in the ninth inning. Atlanta snatched a 5-4 win in 11 innings.

The veteran closer had not blown three straight saves at any point in his MLB career. He was 11-for-11 in opportunities to start the 2024 season with 17 straight scoreless outings.

Despite the recent struggles, manager Torey Lovullo explained Sewald will continue to get the ball in save situations and that the club has not reached a point to consider moving in another direction.

“We’re not going to start that conversation yet,” Lovullo said postgame. “I’m not ready to make that decision. Paul’s been an unbelievable closer for us, and he will continue to get the baseball. … He’s going to get on a nice run for us.”

Looking for his 12th save of the season, Sewald had Atlanta down to its final strike with nobody aboard.

Atlanta’s Eddie Rosario climbed the ladder on a 1-2 fastball way above the zone for a single to right. Murphy went the other way with a 1-1 fastball thigh-high and on the outside edge, blasting it 431 feet.

Lovullo pointed to a lack of sweepers against Rosario, who has struggled mightily against sliders this season, as a potential mistake, but he did not tie the three blown saves together by some thread.

“He’d been perfect up to that point and closers blow saves,” Lovullo said. “It happens. … He’s not taking anything for granted. Just continue to make pitches and something good will happen.”

Sewald’s ERA has jumped from 0.54 to 3.93 after he allowed seven earned runs over the last three outings.

Since Sewald joined the D-backs last trade deadline, his 24 saves are tied for No. 5 in the NL. He finished off 24 of 26 save opportunities before entering this lull.

The Diamondbacks have not had a closer controversy since making that trade with the Mariners — life before the deal was very different — and that will continue for the time being. The D-backs will need their closer to rebound quickly, as these three games would have been key wins in an otherwise terrific stretch for the club having won six of nine games.

Lovullo expressed his concern level remained minimal.

Key play

The Braves trailed Arizona 3-1 going into the ninth inning in large part due to this outrageous catch by first baseman Matt Olson:

Olson getting the ball in as quickly as he did prevented Joc Pederson from scoring a potential final blow to Atlanta’s comeback chances.

Instead, the Braves swiped yet another game from the D-backs. Arizona has out-scored Atlanta 18-11 over Innings 1-6 across their four matchups this season, yet the Braves are 4-0.

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