05 May 2011
In an interview with SignonSanDiego.com on Thursday, Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers discussed several aspects of the team's performance. As he has stated several times before, Towers mentioned that improving the bullpen was the team's number one priority in the offseason. Towers always had a strong bullpen while he was the GM of the Padres, and he wanted to do the same in Arizona. Said Towers, "That was paramount. That’s why we moved (Mark) Reynolds and signed J.J. Putz. We’re not there yet. We don’t have San Diego’s bullpen yet. It doesn’t happen overnight. But our closer is (7-for-7) and we’re winning the games we should be winning." Towers also discussed how much more difficult it is to build a pitching staff at Chase Field. “We’re in a tough, tough pitching ballpark,” said Towers. “I mean, it’s entirely different from putting a bullpen together in San Diego. Fly-ball pitchers don’t play here. Other than maybe Cincy and Philadelphia, it’s one of the best offensive ballparks in the game, but for us to get better our pitching has to get better.” Despite these statements, the team's opening starting rotation included several fly ball pitchers, especially Armando Galarraga and Barry Enright, although the bullpen has several ground ball pitchers. The return of Zach Duke later this month should bring another ground-ball pitcher into the rotation.
The other area that Towers discussed were the team's strikeouts. After striking out an MLB record 1529 times in 2010, Towers wanted a team that made better contact. He traded away 3B Mark Reynolds, and let 1B Adam LaRoche leave as a free agent. “Certain teams don’t fit certain ballparks. For us, the strikeouts were really big for us, and we wanted to start making more contact. We don’t have as much power as we did last year, but we’re scoring runs. If we get our pitching in order, I think we have a chance to compete."
So far, the team has scored 141 Runs in 30 games, or 4.70 R/G, slightly above last year's 4.40 R/G. Meanwhile, the team's ERA is down to 4.67 (5.10 R/G) from last year's 4.81. And the bullpen ERA is all the way down to 3.53 from 2010's 5.74. With an overall record of 14-16, and an 11-1 mark when leading after 6 Innings, the team certainly seems to be playing better baseball than the 2010 version.