Heading into ninth inning of today’s game, the Arizona Diamondbacks were three outs away from a series win against the Washington Nationals, a World Series favorite of many experts heading into the season.
Unfortunately for the D’Backs, those three outs didn’t come until the Nats put four runs on the scoreboard thanks to a Michael Taylor grand slam over the center field wall. Washington would hold on for a 9-6 victory in the bottom half of the ninth.
For the second time in only four tries this season, Arizona closer Addison Reed blew a save. Immediately after the game, Reed’s manager Chip Hale was quick to defend him.
“It just happened, let’s give it a day or so, huh,” the first-year skipper responded when asked that very question. “Every time somebody doesn’t perform they’re either going to get taken out of the rotation or they’re going to get sent down. Know what I mean?
“Come on, man. It’s a 162-game season, guys struggle, man. Let’s give that team credit. They battled, guy off the bench got put in for a guy who got thrown out, comes up with a big home run. That’s pretty impressive, so, I mean, we’re always trying to get better but we haven’t had a whole lot of those opportunities for him, so it’s hard. We just have to get better.”
Hale does bring up a good point. A lot of the fans are quick to criticize and quick to ask for a change immediately following a game.
The only problem is that we have grown accustomed to Reed struggling in late inning situations. He blew six saves last season in 38 tries and has already blown 50 percent of his tries in 2015, albeit in a very small sample size.
There’s only one issue. Arizona also doesn’t have a lot of great options to turn to either.
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Heading into this season, if anyone was going to take over the closing role from Reed, it was going to be Evan Marshall. He was brilliant in his rookie season, but Marshall really struggled during the first month of the season and is currently in Reno.
Brad Ziegler would be the first option on the active roster if Hale does indeed decide to make a change. He’s this club’s best reliever and he did a solid job in his ninth inning duties back in 2013, but with how good of a groundball pitcher he is, Ziegler is best suited to be a setup man.
If Hale wants to go with a wild card, he could turn to Enrique Burgos. The young flamethrower had 29 saves last year in the California league and has the makeup and the stuff to be a closer at the big league level, but he’s only 24 and is still battling control issues.
When looking at the rest of the bullpen, no one else really profiles to be a closer. Randall Delgado, Andrew Chafin and Vidal Nuno are more longer relief guys, Oliver Perez has two career saves and Daniel Hudson just had a start on Sunday.
For now, the D’Backs are probably stuck with Reed as their closer. For the club’s sake and the sanity of the fans, let’s hope he turns it around.