Thoughts on the bullpen competition
It’s been an eventful week for the D-backs, who set their pitching staff and have narrowed the competition for the final bench spot to just a few players.
First, the pitching staff. It was no big surprise that Doug Slaten, Billy Buckner, Juan Gutierrez and Yusmeiro Petit grabbed the final four spots in the bullpen. It wasn’t like there was an overly impressive competition going on and as camp went on it seemed more spots became available. First it was when it was clear Tom Gordon was not going to be ready to start the season and then another opened when they decided to begin the year with Max Scherzer on the disabled list.
Petit and Buckner pitched very well in nearly all of their outings this spring and clearly deserved to make the team.
As for Slaten, he is it seems at times maddeningly frustrating for the coaching staff, many of whom believe he has a lot of potential. He struggled early in camp, but a couple of things helped rescue his candidacy. One, he worked with pitching coach Bryan Price on lowering his arm angle which led him to pitch better. And two, he’s left-handed and the team desperately wanted a second lefty to go with Scott Schoeneweis.
Gutierrez pitched very well in his first couple outings in camp and that fact along with being out of Minor League options and therefore a risk to be lost on the waiver wire helped him make the team despite being unimpressive the second half of the spring.
It’s hard to argue with the selections. Bobby Korecky and Leo Rosales were the odd men out and will start the year with Triple-A Reno. Korecky pitched well in his final few outings, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a rough start to the spring.
What will be interesting to see is who comes off the roster when Scherzer is ready to go in mid-April.
More on the position player battle in a little bit.