Through the trials and tribulations and bumps in the road during the 162-game ride which is the Major League Baseball season it appears the Arizona Diamondbacks are finding stability in their bullpen.
Josh Collmenter deserves a substantial share of the credit.
The one time starter-turned stretch reliever has been versatile enough for manager Kirk Gibson to use in a myriad of different situations.
Case in point Tuesday in St. Louis when Gibby, almost out of options and arms, handed Collmenter the ball with score tied at six heading into extra innings. 68 pitches and four scoreless innings the Diamondbacks and Collmenter (2-0) left Busch Stadium in the wee hours of Wednesday morning with a 7-6 victory.
“I had really good command of my stuff,” he explained to Brad Cesmat in a recent interview on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “Obviously when you have a guy [catching] like [Miguel] Montero…having trust in him and what he’s calling [is important].”
Pitching coach Charles Nagy and Gibson have certainly had trust in Collmenter who lowered his ERA to 2.97 during the just completed road trip. He’s struck out 20 and walked only five in his last 10 appearances. The first-place D-backs (34-26) have the sixth-lowest bullpen ERA in baseball (2.98) entering Friday’s quick three-game homestand against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants at Chase Field.
Collmenter believes the relievers have bonded together as a unit through good times and bad.
“When you’re with each other for so many days in spring training and throughout the season, especially as a bullpen you’re all together,” he told Cesmat. “You sit out there for nine innings. You talk to each other. You learn about them…it’s just a good group to be around. Each guy goes out there and knows what his job is. [He] knows what he’s supposed to do.”
Strong, deep bullpens have always been a priority for General Manager Kevin Towers who has to be happy with what he’s seen through the first two months of the season.