Diamondbacks Bullpen Woes Continue

For the fifth consecutive night Arizona Diamondbacks fans sat helplessly and watched as their team dropped yet another baseball game to the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. The announced attendance of 21,030 was much less than that by the time the game finally ended. Those that remained appeared evenly split between Dodger fans and those dissatisfied with the Diamondbacks play.

It is not just that the Diamondbacks are losing; it is the way they are losing that has fans up in arms. Last night was the latest example of the struggles this team has faced this year.

In the early innings the Arizona offense continued its struggles getting just four hits and no runs over the first six innings. During this same period the Dodgers would score three runs on nine hits.

After the first Dodger run scored, the fans let out a collective groan knowing the Diamondbacks likely would not be able to overcome even a single run deficit. That outlook changed when Arizona pieced together four hits and scratched out three runs to get to within one.

All of the excitement quickly dissipated when the game was turned over to the Diamondbacks bullpen. By the time the last out was recorded in the eighth inning, the Dodgers had sent 12 men to the plate and scored seven runs. The beating was not over as the Dodgers would tack on another two runs in the ninth to stake the Dodgers to a 13-3 win.

The bullpen struggles are nothing new, they have been occurring all season. Diamondbacks coaches and front office continually preach patience and explain at great lengths that the season is 162 games long and we are just 34 games into the season.

I can understand that argument and I can appreciate their loyalty to the pitching staff but if the 2009 season taught us anything it was that a downward and negative trend can snowball quickly with a young team and soon the losses add up to an insurmountable uphill battle.

During his post game remarks, Diamondbacks manager AJ Hinch was inevitably asked about the struggling bullpen. Clearly this latest episode was even more than Hinch could bear. His tone was short and he began questioning whether the current personnel were capable of overcoming their difficulties.

At a minimum the roles in the bullpen are in a state of flux with no one guaranteed a spot. This is a challenging time to be making wholesale changes to the bullpen but the team appears to be ready to begin making major adjustments.

General Manager Josh Byrnes warned that the team would not make trades for the sake of trades but did appear to be open to a multitude of changes suggesting nothing is off-limits including moving a starting pitcher to the beleaguered bullpen.

In the words of Byrnes, that would be equivalent of robbing Peter to pay Paul so such a change might not be warranted at the present time but could be revisited if or when Brandon Webb and Kris Benson return to action.

For now the fans need to develop a thick skin and hang in there. The boos will continue to flow through Chase Field whenever a pitching change occurs and the Diamondbacks will keep searching for an end to this losing streak.



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