Friday, June 18, 2010

Nailing Down the Arizona Closer Situation

posted by Jon Williams
After waiting entirely too long, Arizona Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch decided to remove Chad Qualls from the closer role. For the moment we are expected to believe that Aaron Heilman is the new closer. However, the D'Backs have been hesitant to place Heilman in that role. Their reasoning is not clear. Most of the bullpen has struggled and it is possible they find him more valuable in a set-up role.

Hinch added to the confusion Wednesday night by bringing Heilman into the game in the eighth inning when his team trailed 6-4. While it is true that Heilman needed the work, the result of the outing casts doubt on Heilman's hold on the job. He allowed four baserunners and two runs to score in one inning of work.

I believe that Sam Demel will be closing in Arizona in the second half. I was going to write more about Sam Demel. The D'backs just acquired him in the Connor Jackson trade. But Jason Grey has already done the job many times better than I ever could so I'll just link and sample him here.
A third-round pick in the 2007 draft (one pick after the Chicago White Sox drafted current Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher John Ely), Demel both started and closed in college at TCU, but the 6-foot right-hander has been viewed strictly as a reliever in the pros. The A's have drafted a number of hard-throwing relief arms in recent years (Demel, Andrew Bailey, Jeff Gray, Jared Lansford, Andrew Carignan) in the hopes that some of them pick up the necessary secondary pitches and/or command to stick in the majors...

...In terms of his fantasy value, the main thing to talk about with Demel in the short term is opportunity, as the D-backs are looking for someone, anyone, to step up in the later innings. Aaron Heilman is getting a chance to run with the ball for the moment in the ninth, almost by default. But Heilman has had far more success against left-handed hitters this year thanks to his changeup; his ability to get tough righties out in the ninth is still in question. The expectation is that Demel could quickly find his way to some high-pressure situations if he adapts well to the major leagues.
Read the rest of the article for a great write-up of his skills and ability as a pitcher. As Jason points out the key is that Demel has a huge opportunity to work his way into the role quickly. The rest of the Arizona bullpen has been horrible. There is no one (with the exception of Heilman and a possible return to Qualls at some point) in the way of Demel becoming the closer. He should be picked up by any owner in any type of league where saves are at a premium.

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