Trade deadline additions position D’backs with depth for postseason push
PHOENIX — When the dust settled after a whirlwind MLB trade deadline, the Arizona Diamondbacks came away with a collection of new faces who can add depth and flexibility for a postseason push in the competitively crowded National League standings.
Arizona didn’t make any blockbuster deals. The division rival Los Angeles Dodgers were the ones to add star infielder Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles. But the Diamondbacks did land four players to aid the pitching staff and the infield.
In the bullpen, Arizona brought in Jake Diekman (who arrived via bullpen cart from the opposing clubhouse during a series against the Texas Rangers) and former Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler to accompany right-handed pitcher Matt Andriese, who was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays about a week before the deadline.
Manager Torey Lovullo said the assemblage of new arms will be able to complement those in the bullpen already and provide more options when certain players need rest or aren’t getting outs.
Lovullo also said he intends to keep Yoshihisa Hirano, Archie Bradley and Brad Boxberger in the 7-8-9 roles, but is excited to have more options at his disposal.
“They’re going to supplement the situation that we’re in back there,” Lovullo said of the additions. “August and September baseball is about stopping momentum. It’s about having the pieces in your bullpen that are going to come in and execute and get outs.”
Lovullo noted Monday’s loss to the Rangers as a reason why having a plethora of arms to summon out of the bullpen is essential. Diamondbacks relievers surrendered five runs in the 9-5 loss.
“The more arms you have that can go out there and give you scoreless innings or quality outings, the better off you’re going to be,” Diamondbacks infielder Daniel Descalso said.
For Diekman, a change of scenery may yield positive results. His numbers for the Rangers at Globe Life Park this year were ugly, but he’s been nearly unhittable away from Arlington, as Fox Sports analyst CJ Nitkowski pointed out via Twitter.
“I have no idea why my splits in Arlington are so bad,” Diekman said. “But I’m not pitching in Arlington anymore.”
Pitching was certainly the focus for Arizona’s trade deadline, but infielder Eduardo Escobar was acquired from the Minnesota Twins soon after third baseman Jake Lamb injured his shoulder. The injury to Lamb was later diagnosed as fraying in his rotator cuff, which could require season-ending surgery, according to The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan.
Escobar hit .274 with a career-best .852 OPS in 97 games played for the Twins this season before the trade. He can play third base, shortstop or second base — giving Lovullo no shortage of options on the lineup card as well as out of the bullpen.
“They made a bunch of good moves,” outfielder A.J. Pollock said of the front office. “We’ve got some good players coming in, players we’re familiar with.”
One addition who already has familiarity with the organization is Ziegler. He pitched with the Diamondbacks from 2011 through 2016 and was voted in by fans as a member of the 20th Anniversary Team. In his career with the Diamondbacks, the right-hander with the funky sidearm delivery posted a 2.49 ERA in 348 games to go with 62 saves.
As it stands, the Diamondbacks are vying with the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies for the National League West Division title. All three teams are within one game in the standings and would need to make the postseason via wild card matchup if they don’t come out on top.
“It’s a tight race,” All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. “We’ll have to go out there and play our best and see what happens.”