The Diamondbacks head into the 2018 season with lofty expectations. A lot of the team’s success will ride on how well their pitchers perform, both in the rotation and the bullpen.
Arizona’s front office made a flurry of moves this offseason to bolster the bullpen – including signing Japanese pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano and trading for Brad Boxberger – to set the team up for success throughout the duration of the season.
Here’s a look at the Diamondbacks’ projected bullpen with a few names to watch as the season unfolds.
As it stands now, Archie Bradley will most likely be the closer despite not definitively taking over the role last season. His numbers and pitch arsenal are both impressive, so fans shouldn’t be too concerned about him closing out ninth innings in 2018.
Lefties Andrew Chafin and T.J. McFarland return, and Hirano and Boxberger will provide much-needed support. Fernando Rodney is gone, so it’s up to the new acquisitions and holdovers to step up and solidify their roles.
Compared to teams within their own division, the Diamondbacks probably have the third-best bullpen behind the Dodgers and Kenley Jansen, and the newly revamped Rockies ‘pen that now features Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw.
The main strengths of this team lie in the starting pitching and lineup. If Torey Lovullo can find a handful of bullpen guys early in the year he can depend upon, that’s all this team will need.
Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker form a nice trio for opposing offenses that can pitch deep into games. So strong seasons from the likes of Hirano, Boxberger and Bradley could make the Diamondbacks quite dangerous.
One more piece wouldn’t hurt, however, and Greg Holland is still on the market.
Mike Moustakas recently signed a one year, $6.5 million deal to remain a Kansas City Royal. That’s a far cry from what many people thought he would get on the free agent market. Perhaps Holland would be interested in a short-term deal.
His presence would allow Bradley to settle into the setup role he performed so well in last year and take the pressure of practically every member of that bullpen. Aside from him, there aren’t many free agents who would make a significant impact on the current team.
It’s no guarantee Arizona would be willing to fork over the money for Holland or if Holland would even be willing to sign a cheaper deal, but it makes sense on paper.
All in all, the Diamondbacks have a number of arms in the bullpen with nice upside who might not blow anyone away. But they could certainly come together to form a dependable group that could help Arizona get back to the playoffs once again.
Like most things with baseball, time will tell how impactful and successful Arizona’s bullpen is. But there’s no reason Lovullo shouldn’t feel confident with the guys he currently has at his disposal.