SAN FRANCISCO – The SOS call clearly resonates from the dugout. This time, it’s not that familiar SOS, but STB. While this may sound like a metropolitan transit company, it’s more likely Diamondbacks’ manager Chip Hale and his staff tells their starters to Save The Bullpen.
So far in the opening two weeks of the season, that has not truly happened, and Hale has had to play musical roulette with his intrepid band of relievers. Because of two factors, Hale has been mired in the transition between history and reality.
Because the game evolved dramatically over the past two to three decades, the role of relievers took on a different approach. There was a time went starters routinely went into the eighth and ninth inning and closers, as we now know that role, essentially did not existent.
With the advent of the 21st century and a changing nature of the game, relievers have taken specific roles. As a result, contemporary managers use their pitching staff in defined situations. That means a reliever may come in to face one or two batters, and then hand the ball to another bullpen member. As well, some are trained only in eighth inning set-up roles, while others are groomed as closers.
The result is usually catastrophic, and particularly stressful on several relievers for extended days. One example was last Saturday night in San Diego. During a 14 inning game against the Padres, Hale used nine of his 12 man pitching staff. Given the reliability of bullpen personnel, there is a greater tendency to run these players out night after night.
During spring training, and at the advent of the season, Hale said his ideal situation would to carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players. That would constitute the mandatory 25-man roster, and the Diamondbacks were prepared to go forward with this contingent. Now, Hale changed his mind and, given the nature of his beleaguered bullpen over the opening two weeks of the season, he switched to a 13-man staff.
“We still have a more games on the road here,” Hale said before Tuesday’s game with the Giants at AT&T Park. “There’s not much of a chance that we’ll go below the 13 for at least the next month.”
The latest ramification transpired just before Tuesday night’s contest here. The Diamondbacks recalled Silvino Bracho from AAA Reno, and now Hale has that 13-man staff. Late last week, the Diamondbacks increased the number of 12, which started the season, to 13, and recalled Evan Marshall and Tyler Wagner from Reno.
In addressing the necessity of the 13-man staff, Hale reduced the number of position players by one, and sent outfielder Socrates Brito down to Reno. So far, the results have been encouraging.
Coming into Tuesday’s game, Marshall, recalled from Reno on April 17, appeared in one game and tossed a perfect inning. Wagner, one of the last cuts in spring training, threw two perfect innings in the extra-inning victory Monday over the Giants. Wagner was recalled from Reno on April 17.
SOME WELL-DESERVED ACCOLDAES
Manager Chip Hale and Hall of Famer Randy Johnson have been honored by the PAC-12 Conference. Both were named to the conference’s All-Century team.
Hale, who played at the University of Arizona from 1984-87, was among three third basemen designated. Others included Troy Glaus (1995-97 at UCLA), and Brett Wallace (2006-08 from Arizona State). Johnson pitched for USC from 1983-85, and was among 10 pitchers that included Tom Seaver from USC, Mike Mussina from Stanford, and Jack McDowell, also from Stanford.