The Diamondbacks have elected to not only remove Brad Boxberger from the closer’s role but also to do away with set bullpen roles entirely for the remainder of the season, manager Torey Lovullo explained to reporters this week (link via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic). Rather than deploy a set closer (Boxberger) and setup man (Archie Bradley), the D-backs’ late-inning decisions will be determined primarily based on matchups. Boxberger, Bradley, Andrew Chafin, Brad Ziegler and T.J. McFarland will be among the matchup options sharing late-inning duties, per Piecoro. The 30-year-old Boxberger has a 4.41 ERA and has averaged five walks per nine innings this season, but he’s also racked up 32 saves and fanned 68 hitters in just 49 innings of work. He’s struggled in particular as of late, surrendering a dozen runs in his past 11 2/3 innings of work. Boxberger will be arbitration-eligible for the final time this offseason after earning $1.85MM in 2018.
More from the division…
- Dennis Lin of The Athletic takes stock of the Padres’ wide-ranging slate of Major League debuts in 2018 (subscription required), noting that 14 different players got their first taste of the Majors in San Diego this season. (Francisco Mejia, who came to the Friars with just 14 career plate appearances, is effectively receiving his first MLB audition as well.) While the results have varied, 2018 gave Friars fans their first look at a number of potential building blocks, including Luis Urias, Mejia and Joey Lucchesi, among others. Notably, Lin speculates that given the Padres’ wealth of outfield options and questions surrounding Franmil Reyes’ glovework, he could become a trade chip in talks with American League clubs this winter. The 23-year-old has batted .265/.316/.525 through 215 plate appearances this season, including a monstrous .313/.365/.635 slash with nine homers and a dramatically improved strikeout rate since being recalled from the minors on Aug. 5 (104 PAs).
- Though the Giants’ hopes of contending have long since vanished, the team doesn’t have any plans to shut down rookies Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez for the final weeks of the year to limit their workloads, writes Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. Rodriguez, a former outfielder and the son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, has quietly been one of the NL’s best rookies in 2018, working to a 2.35 ERA with 7.1 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 through 103 1/3 innings of work after signing a minor league deal this past offseason. Suarez, also 26, has given the Giants 145 1/3 innings of 4.33 ERA ball with 7.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 52.4 percent ground-ball rate. Both have presumably worked their way firmly into the rotation picture in 2019 and beyond with their 2018 showings.