With a flurry of activity late Saturday, one might think the Diamondbacks are seriously in the middle of a pennant race. In reality, the rationale remains that the organization is committed to building for the future and harbors the desire to track potential help for the future.
In a series of moves after Saturday’s loss to the A’s at home, the Diamondbacks shuffled their pitching staff and moved to protect an important asset. While one move was considered surprising, the effect was designed to have a long-lasting effect.
Perhaps the most unforeseen move was assigning left-hander reliever Andrew Chafin to Triple-A Reno. After a season in which the native of Kettering, Ohio emerged as one of the successful rookies, the move to Reno was considered fortification against fatigue and possible injury.
Despite taking the loss Saturday at home against Oakland, Chafin remained as one of the most productive rookie pitchers in the National League. After his latest effort on Saturday, he led rookie pitchers with a 2.41 ERA, second in appearances and led in opponents’ batting. Opposing bats hit .206 and Chafin tied Aaron Nola of the Phillies and Chris Heston of the Giants for the longest winning streak among National Leageu rookie pitchers. That was a five-game streak.
“The move to send Chafin out is for rest,” manager Chip Hale said before Sunday’s game with Oakland at home. “There is a need to give him a break and he will to Reno and maybe pitch in one game. At his point, he’ll get eight days off and we have to be vigilant with him.”
Hale reported Chafin was not happy with the decision, but understood this determination. Calling Chafin the team’s biggest “surprise” of the season, Hale indicated the health of Chafin was the immediate concern.
Head trainer Ken Crenshaw and his staff track pitchers and their use. Over time, the medical staff is able to watch for clues regarding possible injury and Chafin was reaching that point.
“If this was earlier in the season, we probably would have put Chafin in the disabled list,” Hale added. “For now, he’ll go to Reno, get some rest and then be back after the Reno season ends.”
That could be as early as the Giants series in Chase Field from Sept. 7 to the 9. For now, general manager Dave Stewart brought up right-hander A. J. Schugel and right-handed closer Silvino Bracho.
Schugel is making his second tour of duty with the Diamondbacks. Appearing in one game earlier his season, Schugel, who was one of the last cuts in spring training, was 9-9 with a 4.84 ERA in 21 starts between Double-AA Mobile and Triple-A Reno.
“I was totally surprised with the call up, and did not expect to be here,” Schugel said in the clubhouse before Sunday’s game. “Once you’re here, you get a taste and my goal was to get back here.”
Bracho, who is 23 years-old, was a combined 2-1 with 19 saves and a 1.27 ERA with Single A Advanced Visalia and Mobile. Singed by the Diamondbacks as a free agent out of Maracaibo, Venezuela, Bracho had not closed prior to this season, In his previous three years in the Diamondbacks organization, Bracho was a spot reliever with a combined 6-4 record and 1.47 ERA.
“(Bracho) earned his way here,” said Hale. “Location and hitting spots is his value. His velocity will not wow people. While I’ll like to use in a soft landing situation, there would be the possibility of using late in a game. We’ll see.”
The other seismic activity noted in the clubhouse was the departure of reliever Addison Reed. While Diamondbacks officials denied a trade with the New York Mets involving Reed after Saturday’s game, the deal was on the books and pending. That’s because Reed had to pass his physical.
That happened Sunday and the trade was formally announced. In exchange for Reed, the Diamondbacks acquired Matt Koch and Miller Diaz, a pair of right-handed minor league pitchers. Both pitchers have lingered in the Mets system over the past several years, and Diaz has labored in the New York organization for the last seven years.
Regarding Reed, the Diamondbacks lost faith in their one-time closer earlier this season. After leading Arizona in saves last season with 38 but also compiling a 1-7 record with a 4.25 ERA, Reed fell out of favor with Hale, Stewart and Tony La Russa, the team’s Chief Baseball Officer. Eventually banished to the minors, Reed returned in mid-season, but was reduced to a pitching in meaningless situations. In 38 games this season, Reed was 2-2, three saves and 4.20 ERA.
Upon moving Reed, Hale indicated the move was designed to be forward-looking and plan for the future. Placing Reed in the same disposable category as reliever Oliver Reed and infielder Cliff Pennington, both recently traded, Hale concluded that the organization wanted to make room for players with whom the organization has a future.