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2012 Diamondbacks Spring Training Preview - Relief Pitching | February
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Continuing our Spring Training preview for the 2012 Arizona Diamondbacks, here is a look at the relief pitching. Like the starting pitching, most of the bullpen appears to be set before a single Spring game is played.  There are a total of 16 relievers in camp, who will be battling for around 7 spots. Here are the candidates:

Jonathan Albaladejo, Craig Breslow (L), Mike DeMark*, Sam Demel, David Hernandez, Jensen Lewis*, Brett Lorin, Evan Marshall*, Kevin Munson*, Yonata Ortega, Joe Paterson (L), J.J. Putz, Takashi Saito, Bryan Shaw, Mike Zagurski (L), Brad Ziegler.   (* = Non Roster Invitee)

Barring injury, the seven pitchers expected to make the club are Putz, Hernandez, Saito, Shaw, Ziegler, Paterson, and Breslow. Putz would serve as the primary closer, with Hernandez as the main set-up man. Saito and Shaw would work in the late innings, with Ziegler used specifically against RHB. Patterson and Breslow would give Manager Kirk Gibson two lefties who are tough against LHB. The only problem with this bullpen is that none of these seven pitchers can be used in a spot-start or many-inning relief situation.

Pitcher W L SV ERA FIP G IP H ER K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP
J.J. Putz 2 2 45 2.17 2.54 60 58.0 41 14 9.47 1.86 0.62 .247
Dav.Hernandez 5 3 11 3.38 2.94 74 69.1 49 26 10.03 3.91 0.52 .253
Takashi Saito 4 2 0 2.03 3.40 30 26.2 21 6 7.90 3.09 0.69 .260
Bryan Shaw 1 0 0 2.54 3.52 33 28.1 30 8 7.69 2.56 0.64 .333
Brad Ziegler 3 2 1 2.16 2.55 66 58.1 53 14 6.82 2.94 0.00 .303
Joe Paterson 0 3 1 2.91 3.44 62 34.0 28 11 7.41 3.97 0.26 .265
Craig Breslow 0 2 0 3.79 3.58 67 59.1 69 25 6.70 3.20 0.61 .342

After these seven, there are about five pitchers who are possibilities for the Major League team - Brett Lorin, Jensen Lewis, Jonathan Albaladejo, Sam Demel, and Mike Zagurski.

Pitcher W L SV ERA G IP H ER K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Brett Lorin (Hi A) 7 6 1 2.84 25 117.1 103 37 7.61 1.46 0.54
Jensen Lewis 3 2 0 5.14 22 28.0 40 16 7.07 4.82 1.29
Jon. Albaladejo (JPN) 2 2 2 2.45 43 51.1 43 14 7.75 3.35 0.35
Sam Demel 2 1 0 4.21 34 25.2 31 12 5.36 4.64 1.43
Mike Zagurski (AAA) 4 0 11 2.65 46 54.1 43 16 10.48 4.49 0.50

Brett Lorin is a 6-7, 24 year old RHP who was selected in the Rule 5 draft from the Pirates during the offseason. Lorin is a sinker/slider pitcher who keeps the ball on the ground, and who has worked primarily as a starter in the Minors. He had an excellent K/BB ratio in Class A, but some scouts question whether his stuff is good enough for the Majors. Lorin was slated for AA this year, and the Majors would be a big step up for him. Lorin would have to be returned to the Pirates if he doesn't make the Major League team, unless the two organizations can work out a trade. 

Jensen Lewis (29) had some success in the Majors from 2007-2010 (3.67 ERA, 8.0K/9, 3.9BB/9), but reportedly had a dead arm in 2011 and only threw 28 IP in AAA. If he's healthy, he has an outside shot of making the team if he can keep the walks under control. Jonathan Albaladejo (29) has spent parts of four seasons in the Majors, primarily with the Yankees, before pitching for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan last year. He will probably start in AAA as injury insurance for the bullpen.  Sam Demel pitched with the Diamondbacks in 2011, but struggled with walks and the home run ball. He probably needs to show significant improvement before getting another chance in the Majors. Mike Zagurski gives the team another left-handed relief option, but he too needs to reduce the number of walks allowed. 

The other four pitchers in Major League camp have no Major League experience yet - Mike DeMark, Evan Marshall, Kevin Munson, and Yonata Ortega.

Pitcher W L SV ERA G IP H ER K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Mike DeMark (Ind,AA,AAA) 3 2 16 1.94 47 46.1 35 10 12.69 2.54 0.39
Evan Marshall (A-,A+,AA) 0 1 6 1.16 27 31.0 26 4 9.00 2.03 0.58
Yonata Ortega (A+,AA) 4 1 10 4.11 48 57.0 44 26 12.00 5.05 0.79
Kevin Munson (A+,AA) 4 3 0 3.81 44 56.2 47 24 12.49 6.73 0.64 

DeMark (28) is an interesting story, as he began the 2011 season in the Independent Atlantic League, but soon became an outstanding closer for AA Mobile. Marshall (21) was a 4th Round pick in last June's draft, and was very impressive in Yakima (Northwest League) and Visalia (California League) before making one scoreless appearance for AA Mobile. Munson (23) was drafted in 2010, and has put up very good strikeout and HR numbers, but has been walking too many. Ortega (25) is also a good strikeout picher who is walking too many. I think Marshall, Munson, and Ortega all need more time in the Minors, but it is possible that DeMark could be considered for a big-league spot.

Conclusions
The Diamondbacks have seven pitchers who should be expected to make the Major League roster - Putz, Hernandez, Saito, Shaw, Ziegler, Paterson, and Breslow. If all seven are healthy, it is hard to see any of these pitchers not making the team. But Shaw still has options left, so he could be vulnerable with a poor spring. The team would also like to have a spot starter/long main in the bullpen. This could be Rule 5 pick Brett Lorin, who has been a starter in the Minors, or even a starter like Wade Miley. My guess is that one of the Top 7 will start the year on the DL, leaving a spot for Lorin or Miley, or perhaps even a long shot like DeMark.