Club has had a revolving door in the ninth inning since July trades
By Jake Rill
PHOENIX -- Since the D-backs traded Brad Ziegler to the Red Sox on July 9 and dealt Tyler Clippard to the Yankees on July 31, they've had no reliever step up to claim the closer role.
Arizona manager Chip Hale has opted to use various pitchers in save situations based on either matchups or which pitcher has the hot hand. So far, it hasn't worked all that well for any of the relievers thrown into those opportunities.
Jake Barrett was the first D-backs reliever to get a chance in the ninth-inning role. But since notching his most recent save on Aug. 9, the rookie right-hander has posted a 9.95 ERA in nine appearances.
After Barrett started to struggle, Enrique Burgos began to be used in save situations. However, the right-hander is just 1-for-4 in save opportunities since Aug. 18, posting a 16.62 ERA in six games during that span.
"Obviously he had a good run, and when you start to kind of get off the rails there, you try to rein them back in, maybe get him in some situations that aren't as pressurized," Hale said of Burgos. "He has to pitch in important innings, and he's going to have to figure it out on the fly.
"It's confidence, he and Barrett both have got knockout stuff. They've got good enough stuff to pitch here in late innings. We just need to keep instilling confidence and giving them opportunities."
Hudson has had an up-and-down season. He had a 1.55 ERA in his first 30 appearances. But in the stretch of his next 15 games, Hudson posted a 24.21 ERA, forcing Hale to use Hudson in lower-pressure spots for a while.
In his past 12 appearances, Hudson has posted a 1.00 ERA. But in just his second save opportunity of the season on Friday against the Reds, he gave up the tying run on three hits. That was the third time in five days the D-backs had blown a lead in the ninth before ultimately coming back to win later on.
"We like to walk it off, that's kind of our style," Hale joked.
Over the final month of the season, Arizona will continue to evaluate the young relievers in its bullpen, potentially finding which arms will be used in what roles in 2017. It's also possible that the D-backs' closer for next season will be somebody not on the current roster.
Jake Rill is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.