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Diamondbacks’ Closer Crisis: Sewald’s Struggles Continue

In the past 11 months, Paul Sewald has become a cornerstone for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bullpen. His arrival in Arizona marked a turning point, evidenced by his crucial role in clinching six playoff victories last fall and securing the team’s first World Series berth in 22 years. Sewald’s performance was stellar, boasting a 0.54 ERA just a week ago.

Paul Sewald’s Recent Struggles

Yet, the atmosphere at Chase Field on Monday night was anything but celebratory. Sewald faced a chorus of boos after his third consecutive blown save. This time, it was a game-tying, two-run home run by Sean Murphy with two outs in the ninth inning. The Diamondbacks ultimately lost 5-4 to the Braves in extra innings, missing a chance to go above .500.

The Impact of Sewald’s Blown Saves

  • Team Performance: Over the past week, the Diamondbacks have a troubling stat: they are 0-3 when Sewald pitches and 4-0 when he does not.
  • Game Control: For most of Monday night, the Diamondbacks were in control, thanks to an impressive debut by 23-year-old right-hander Yilber Diaz. Entering the top of the ninth, they held a 3-1 lead.

Yilber Diaz’s Memorable Debut

Yilber Diaz made his major league debut on Monday and delivered an outstanding performance. He allowed just one run over six innings, becoming the eighth pitcher in Diamondbacks’ history to achieve such a feat in a debut.

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Highlights of Diaz’s Performance

  • Pitching Stats: Diaz allowed a first-inning homer to Austin Riley but settled in after that, giving up only four baserunners and striking out five while walking just one.
  • Pitch Efficiency: Braves hitters struggled against Diaz’s fastball, which he used over 50% of the time to get six whiffs. His slider and curveball also contributed to his success, with two and one whiffs, respectively.

Diaz’s Rise Through the Ranks

Diaz’s debut was a continuation of his recent success. In his previous start for Triple-A Reno, he struck out 13 in six no-hit innings. Beginning the year in Double-A, Diaz’s addition of a slider during the offseason and improved command led to his rapid ascent through the minors.

The Diamondbacks’ Pitching Woes

If Diaz can secure a spot in the starting rotation, it would be a significant boost for the Diamondbacks, who are currently dealing with multiple injuries to key pitchers.

Injured Pitchers and Their Rehab Progress

  • Merrill Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez: Both are expected to remain out until August. They will need to complete three to four bullpen sessions before moving on to simulated games and minor league rehab assignments.
  • Jordan Montgomery: He is closest to returning, possibly shortly after the All-Star break, following a week-long stint on the injured list due to knee inflammation.

Drey Jameson’s Rehabilitation

Right-hander Drey Jameson is also making progress in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He has begun bullpen sessions at Salt River Fields, nearly a year after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament.

Future Prospects for Jameson

While Jameson won’t return this season, the goal is to prepare him for the start of spring training next February. Manager Torey Lovullo emphasized the importance of building arm strength and refining his delivery to ensure a normal offseason.

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Upcoming Games and Pitching Matchups

The Diamondbacks have a crucial series of games ahead, with notable pitching matchups:

  • Thursday: Right-hander Brandon Pfaadt, who recently took a line drive off his ankle, is set to start after a bullpen session on Tuesday.
  • Friday: Ryne Nelson, despite his struggles this season, will take the mound against the Blue Jays.

FAQs

Q: What led to Paul Sewald’s recent struggles?

A: Sewald has blown three consecutive saves, including a game-tying home run by Sean Murphy, leading to the Diamondbacks’ recent losses.

Q: How did Yilber Diaz perform in his debut?

A: Diaz allowed one run over six innings, striking out five and walking one, showcasing his fastball, slider, and curveball effectively.

Q: When can we expect Merrill Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez to return?

A: Both are likely to return in August, following several bullpen sessions, simulated games, and minor league rehab assignments.

Q: What is the status of Drey Jameson’s recovery?

A: Jameson is in the process of building arm strength and refining his delivery, aiming to be ready for spring training next February.

Q: Who are the upcoming pitching matchups for the Diamondbacks?

A: Key matchups include Brandon Pfaadt on Thursday and Ryne Nelson on Friday, with both set to face formidable opponents.

Conclusion

Paul Sewald’s recent struggles have cast a shadow over the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, but the emergence of Yilber Diaz offers a glimmer of hope. As the team navigates through injuries and seeks stability in their pitching rotation, performances like Diaz’s debut are crucial. While the road ahead is challenging, the Diamondbacks have the talent and potential to turn their season around. Ensuring the health and readiness of their pitchers will be key to their success moving forward.

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