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Diamondback Bullpen Woes - Is the Bullpen Overworked? | April
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The Diamondbacks' bullpen has easily been the team's biggest weakness in the 2010 season. Closer Chad Qualls has blown two saves in the first 12 games, and the bullpen has also seen leads squandered by Juan Gutierrez, Blaine Boyer, and Aaron Heilman (twice). Here are the overall stats for the bullpen pitchers so far:
Pitcher G IP H ER HR BB SO ERA WHIP Shutdowns
Leo Rosales 6 6.2 7 2 0 4 7 2.70 1.65 5
Blaine Boyer 7 5 6 2 0 1 2 3.60 1.40 5
Aaron Heilman 7 6.1 7 5 2 3 3 7.11 1.58 4
Chad Qualls 5 4.1 7 4 1 3 2 8.31 2.31 2
Juan Gutierrez 6 5 4 5 1 3 5 9.00 1.40 4
Esmerling Vasquez 3 3 4 3 1 2 3 9.00 2.00 2
Jordan Norberto* 6 3 2 3 0 6 2 9.00 2.67 2
Bob Howry 6 4.1 6 5 3 0 4 10.38 1.39 2
Team 37.2 43 29 8 22 28 6.93 1.73
The final column, Shutdowns, is a count of how many times the pitcher has managed to pitch without allowing a run to score. So far, not a single pitcher in the bullpen has been reliable for the Diamondbacks. The lowest ERA belongs to Leo Rosales, but he has allowed 4 BBs in just 6.2 IP, and has a 1.65 WHIP. Both Juan Gutierrez and Aaron Heilman pitched well during the first week of the season, but have struggled in their last few outings. In fact, overwork may be the biggest problem for the bullpen. Heilman, for example, had 4 shutdown appearances in his first 4 appearances, and in each case, he was pitching with at least 1 day of rest.  After a successful appearance on Thursday the 14th, Heilman was asked to pitch again on the 15th, and 16th, and ended up allowing runs each time.  Similarly, Gutierrez has now been asked to pitch on 3 consecutive days, the 14th, 15th, and 16th, and allowed runs in both of his last two appearances. The table below lists the days of rest for each appearance by Qualls, Gutierrez, Heilman, and Boyer, and the number of runs allowed in each case.
Pitcher Rest ER Pitcher Rest ER
Boyer x 0 Gutierrez x 0
Boyer 0 0 Gutierrez 2 0
Boyer 2 0 Gutierrez 3 0
Boyer 2 0 Gutierrez 0 0
Boyer 0 1 Gutierrez 0 4
Boyer 0 1 Gutierrez 1 1
Boyer 0 0
Pitcher Rest ER Pitcher Rest ER
Heilman x 0 Qualls x 1
Heilman 1 0 Qualls 0 0
Heilman 3 0 Qualls 3 0
Heilman 2 0 Qualls 2 1
Heilman 0 1 Qualls 0 2
Heilman 0 1
Heilman 1 2
Overall, the top 4 pitchers in the Bullpen have been asked to pitch on zero days rest 10 times, and have allowed runs in 6 of those times. Meanwhile, they have pitched with at least one day of rest 15 times, and have only allowed runs only 4 times. Heilman, Boyer, and Gutierrez have not allowed any runs when they had at least one day of rest. Edit: Until Sunday's Game. But some more pitchers from the back end of the bullpen need to step up, or the starters need to go deeper into games, or the Diamondbacks' Top 4 will continue to be overused.