The Arizona Diamondbacks are winning and the bullpen is a major reason why.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are coming off a sweep by the hands of the Washington Nationals, so much for that series unbeaten streak. It wasn’t just a run of the mill three-game sweep, either. The D-backs scored just one run in each of the first three games and scored four in the fourth. Even worse, Arizona gave up an average of only 3.25 runs per game. There’s no way Arizona should’ve lost the series.
In those four games, Arizona gave up 13 runs. Ten of those 13 runs were given up by the starting rotation while only three were given up by relievers. Zack Greinke gave up one run, Matt Koch gave up three, Troy Scribner gave up two, and Zack Godley gave up four runs. Out of the pen, Fernando Salas gave up one run and Archie Bradley gave up two.
Now, the point of this column isn’t to shame the starting pitching. The four starters, including two pitchers who didn’t start the season on the roster, compiled a 3.60 ERA over 25 innings pitched, however, the bullpen was more stellar. Over 13 innings, the bullpen compiled a 2.07 ERA. The fact that the bullpen was tagged for two of the losses is a tragedy.
The Diamondbacks are currently carrying eight relievers. Jimmie Sherfy was brought up on the 13th and has only one inning of work on the season. Of the seven relievers that have been on the roster all season, only Fernando Salas has an ERA over three. Archie Bradley has a 1.29 ERA, which is currently tied for twelfth-lowest among NL relievers. Andrew Chafin has a 2.03 ERA, Brad Boxberger has a 2.12 ERA, Yoshi Hirano has a 2.50 ERA, Jorge De La Rosa has a 2.70 ERA, TJ McFarland has a 2.10 ERA, and Fernando Salas has a 4.82 ERA.
Now, it’s hard to compare the bullpen and the starting rotation. The rotation has been decimated with injuries, with Robbie Ray is out for a few more weeks. Front-end of the rotation starter Taijuan Walker is out for the year. Still, it’s a testament to just how good a GM Mike Hazen is.
The seven core relievers have given up 35 out of the 123 runs the Diamondbacks have surrendered this season. The bullpen has pitched 35.4% of the total innings played but has given up only 28.5% of the team runs.
The bullpen is one of the only reasons why the D-backs are in first place in the west. The Diamondbacks offense is tied for 21st in the majors with 4.1 runs per game and ranked dead last in the majors with 7.5 hits per game and a .224 team batting average. Despite the offensive woes, Arizona is second in the league, only giving up 3.3 runs per game and third in the league giving up 7.4 this per game, resulting in a first-place standing at the moment.
That’s not to say that all of Arizona’s pitching glory is thanks to the pen. Patrick Corbin is still putting together a strong Cy Young campaign, Zack Greinke is still Zack Greinke, and Zack Godley has held his own, pitching to a 4.08 ERA. The fifth spot in the rotation is still a wild card and who knows how long Matt Koch’s success will last. Even with all the success, a lot of questions still surround this team.
The fact of the matter is that the Arizona Diamondbacks keep winning and the bullpen is a major reason why.