The Arizona Diamondbacks have faded quite a bit after their strong start, as they try and keep up with the white hot, and completely loaded, Los Angeles Dodgers. Part of their undoing this season, in a scene not unfamiliar to Diamondbacks fans, has been their bullpen.
When you talk about the Diamondbacks’ bullpen and the woes they’ve experienced this summer, the conversation instantly seems to shift over to Heath Bell. The last couple years have been rough for Bell, and he’s had no shortage of issues with the Diamondbacks this season. But recent weeks have shown he may have turned it around.
While Bell has caught a ton of flak from fans around the league, particularly those residing in the desert, his numbers on the season aren’t all that bad. He has a 3.55 ERA out of the bullpen and a decent 3.89 FIP. Sure, he has five blown saves, but he also is striking out hitters at his highest rate since 2010 and has posted the lowest walk rate of his entire career this year.
Bell has had his issues this summer. He was shaky early, and then had a pretty rough June, where he posted an ERA well over six. His walk rate for the month was over five per nine and he surrendered five of the eight home runs he’s given up this season during that month.
He has fared much better in July and August, however. Bell has been dynamite out of the ‘pen, having given up only two earned runs since the beginning of July. Over that same span, he’s only given up one extra base hit, has only walked one batter, and has punched out eighteen.
The bottom line is that while the Diamondbacks’ bullpen may be a bit shaky at times, it isn’t Bell that is responsible for it at this point. He’s been terrific here in the second half of the season, providing some big time consistency for the D-Backs in his first year. Give him some credit for rebounding the way he has.