With the Washington Nationals looking for bullpen help, one name to consider is D’Backs closer Brad Ziegler
Since Jonathan Papelbon is on the 15-day DL due to the intercostal injury, the Washington Nationals should definitely be looking for more external bullpen help. We’ve talked about adding Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller from the Yankees (should they sell). One other name to consider is the current closer of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Brad Ziegler.
It’s been a disappointing season for Arizona so far. After their splashy offseason, the Diamondbacks are 29-39 and in fourth place in the National League West (12.5 games behind the Giants). Should they end up becoming sellers, Ziegler and Daniel Hudson are both in the final year of their deal and are free agents this winter.
However, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network tweeted Wednesday that Ziegler and Hudson could still be extended by general manager Dave Stewart and the D’Backs front office:
Ziegler is having a good season for the Diamondbacks at age 36. He is 13-for-13 in save opportunities, but his ERA is high for a closer (2.93). However, one thing to consider is the home ballpark that he pitches in. At Chase Field, he has an ERA of 4.85 and an opponents’ batting average of .320 in 13 games. Meanwhile, on the road, he has a 1.23 ERA and opponents are hitting .240.
The right-handed reliever is not going to be one that overpowers with the fastball. According to Fangraphs, he has an average velocity of 83 miles per hour on his heater. But, he does throw a changeup and a slider with his sidearm delivery.
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Another thing to like about Ziegler’s game is while he is not a high strikeout pitcher (5.21 strikeouts per nine innings), he knows how to draw the big groundball when he needs it. He is 15th among all National League pitchers in groundball percentage at 62.9% (Fangraphs).
To get more insight on what the Diamondbacks might want for Ziegler, I talked to Joe Jacquez from Venom Strikes (Fansided’s Diamondbacks site) to get his thoughts on Ziegler’s availability and why an extension might be more likely:
"“The Diamondbacks are in a win now mode since Dave Stewart, Tony La Russa, and DeJon Watson took over the front office, and despite the struggles that the team has had this year, the Diamondbacks are not in a typical sellers situation and their win now window is for a few years. I think an extension is more likely, but their is the idea that they could try to add value to the farm system after it has been depleted in the recent past. At the end of the day, I think Ziegler and Hudson are important veteran pieces that Arizona will need at the back end of a young bullpen to compete in years to come.”"
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While Miller or Chapman would be the ideal relievers to go after, Ziegler wouldn’t be a bad plan B for the Washington Nationals to explore should the price be too high for the two Yankees relievers. The other interesting twist involving Ziegler is on the night of the trade deadline (August 1), the Washington Nationals will be in Chase Field to begin their first series of the season against the Diamondbacks.