Arizona Diamondbacks: Heath Bell Rightful Heir to Closer’s Role
Bell strung together three dominant, 40-plus save seasons with the San Diego Padres before signing a big contract with the Miami Marlins before the 2012 season. Unfortunately, Bell was nothing short of terrible, blowing eight of 27 save chances and losing his job as closer.
When the Marlins decided to clean house, the D-Backs chose to give Bell a shot and traded oft-injured outfielder Chris Young to the Oakland Athletics in a three-team deal in which they received the former closer.
Bell began 2013 right where he left off last season by allowing three runs in his first appearance. He gave up seven hits and four runs in his first 2.1 innings to start the year and it looked as though the team’s low-risk investment would not pay off. He was able to settle in, however, and has given up just three runs in 12 innings since.
When Putz had to leave during a save chance after throwing just four pitches on May 7, manager Kirk Gibson turned to Bell and he didn’t disappoint with three quick outs on 12 pitches to finish the game. On Thursday, Gibson went right back to Bell rather than give David Hernandez a try and he closed the door yet again.
According to Gibson, the younger Hernandez may get some save chances, but the team will be better served sticking with the experienced Bell when available. Bell didn’t just get lucky when he recorded 132 saves in three years for the Padres; he knows what he is doing in the ninth inning and should continue to close out games until he shows he can’t get it done. If he continues to pitch well he may stick even when Putz, who had struggled before the injury, returns.