Why Diamondbacks' Bullpen Will Be One of the Best in Baseball

Justin EmersonContributor IMarch 27, 2013

Why Diamondbacks' Bullpen Will Be One of the Best in Baseball

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    When Kevin Towers took over as general manager in Arizona after 2010, the Diamondbacks knew they were getting a man who knew how to construct a bullpen.

    He turned a historically bad bullpen in 2010 to one of the team's strengths in 2011 and beyond. In 2013, he has assembled a unit where each member is tailor–made for his role.

    All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

Long Relief: Josh Collmenter

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    Collmenter broke into the league as a starter in 2011. He struggled in 2012, losing his starter's spot to Wade Miley and was relegated to the long relief/spot starter's role. There he thrived.

    In 17 games out of the bullpen and seven starts, he turned in a 2.13 ERA and a 1.167 WHIP. He will return to the same role in 2013.

Lefties: Tony Sipp and Matt Reynolds

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    Both offseason acquisitions, Sipp and Reynolds fill a hole the D'backs desperately need filled. Rotating through lefties did not work in Arizona last year, so Towers turned to Sipp and Reynolds.

    Sipp came over in the Trevor Bauer trade from Cleveland. Last season, left–handers hit only .209 and an OPS of .663, both numbers below his career average.

    Don't let Reynolds' 4.40 ERA fool you: He was pitching in Coors' Field. ERA+, a stat which includes park factors, has him at 108, or 8 percent above league average.

    While he won't be spectacular, his 3.00 SO/BB ratio is a stat any pitcher would like to have.

Right–Hander: Brad Ziegler

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    The frequency with which Ziegler rolled double plays last year became comical. He induced a ground ball 75.5 percent of the time, a major league record. His fly-ball rate of 7.7 percent is also the lowest ever. In 68.2 innings last year, he forced 21 double plays.

    Manager Kirk Gibson could call on him with runners on with complete confidence he would roll the hitter over. He also pitched to an ERA+ of 167.

    In an ordinary bullpen, Ziegler could easily be setting up the seventh or eighth inning. Instead, he will be a situational right-hander for the Diamondbacks, called upon to get those much–needed double plays.

Set–up: Heath Bell

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    It was not that along ago that Bell was considered an elite closer. This time last year, in fact, he was coming off three consecutive 40-save seasons and just signed a big contract with the Miami Marlins.

    As bad as Bell's final numbers looked, he finished strong. He allowed only two earned runs in his final 14 games. 

    Bell was elite in San Diego. He was clearly uncomfortable in Miami, and reportedly had spats with manager Ozzie Guillen. He enters 2013 with a new team, a new manager and a fresh start.

    Both he and the Diamondbacks hope he returns to form. If he does, it would give the team three viable closing options.

Set–up: David Hernandez

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    The day will come when Hernandez is the closer for the Diamondbacks. Until then, he remains one of the best set–up men in baseball. An ERA of 2.50, SO/9 of 12.9, WHIP of 1.024, the stats speak for themselves.

    All of those stats have improved in each of this four major-league seasons. He finished 21 games last years, and he figures to ascend to the closer's role once J.J. Putz decides his time is done.

Closer: J.J. Putz

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    When Jose Valverde was traded following the 2007 season, the Diamondbacks were left without a bona fide closer. Prior to the 2011 season, they took a gamble that Putz would be that option. They were right.

    Putz has been nothing but dominant since coming to the desert. In two seasons, he has accumulated 77 saves, a 2.17 ERA, 10.1 SO/9 and only eight home runs allowed.

    He gives Gibson the peace of mind knowing that if his team enters the ninth inning with a lead, Putz will be able to close the door.

Conclusion

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    A good closer makes games eight innings long: if the team is leading in the ninth, it is essentially over. The Diamondbacks have a created a bullpen that if the team is leading after six, Bell, Hernandez and Putz will make it a very short game for the opposition.

    Then throw in Ziegler in trouble situations, Sipp and Reynolds against some very good divisional lefties and Collmenter in long relief.

    Everyone in the bullpen knows his role, and they will be a strength of the Diamondbacks in 2013.