Through the first 91 games of the season, Josh Collmenter arguably has been his team’s best reliever, but he didn’t make his first appearance in the Diamondbacks’ biggest series of the season until the 10th inning on Wednesday night. There seems to be something wrong with this, especially after watching the Diamondbacks’ bullpen fall apart again in 7-5, 14-inning loss to the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night at Chase Field. Relievers David Hernandez and Heath Bell each gave up a run as the Diamondbacks blew their 19th save of the season, the most in the majors. They’re on pace for 34, which would tie the 2004 Colorado Rockies for the most ever in a single season. “We’re going to have to figure out some things because we need guys to get some outs later in the game,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “It’s too hard on the team to play all the innings like this. It’s a shame.” The Dodgers eventually completed a three-game sweep after Hanley Ramirez and A.J. Ellis hit back-to-back homers in the top of the 14th. The home runs came against Collmenter, but only after the right-hander tossed four scoreless innings of relief to get his team that far. You can argue that Collmenter has been instrumental in extra-inning games this season, that he’s a versatile, hard-to-replace weapon. He can enter a game in the 10th inning and Gibson can feel relatively confident that the game will end with him on the mound, whether it takes one inning or six innings, whether it’s a win or a loss. You can argue that the Diamondbacks probably wouldn’t be 10-4 in extra-inning games without him, and you’d probably be right. But it’s time for them start to worrying more about their 37-40 record in nine-inning games than about what might happen in extra innings. More than halfway into the season, Hernandez and Bell have ERAs north of 4.50. Since June 12, the two have pitched in the same game eight times. In seven of those games, at least one of them has allowed a run. Collmenter pitched his heart out on Wednesday night. He needed 66 pitches to gut through his first four innings before finally running out of gas in the 14th. He was visibly upset when Gibson came to the mound to remove him, but this loss had less to do with Collmenter and more to do with a lineup that managed just two hits in the final 9 1/3 innings. And, of course, more to do with the runs the Diamondbacks relievers gave up before Collmenter stepped on the mound. But do the Diamondbacks lose this game if they handed the ball to Collmenter earlier in the night? What if he threw the seventh? Or what if he were on the mound to close it out in the ninth? It’s time for the Diamondbacks to start altering their reliever deployment. It’s time for their best reliever to start pitching in the most high-leverage situations. Gibson was not in the mood to go into details after the game, but he made it sound like he’s at least open to change. What’s the answer? “I’m not sure I have it,” he said. “Not at this point. The game just ended. I’m sure I’ll be up early thinking about it. Our bullpen just threw 9 2/3 innings. Right now, I’m focused on tomorrow’s game and how I get through that, if I have enough arms to do so.”
Changes coming in the Arizona Diamondbacks' bullpen?
Arizona Republic | Jul 11