Ever since skipper Torey Lovullo signed on with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017, naming a closer ahead of Opening Day has been a normal occurrence.
But normalcy has gone out the window this past year, and with it so has Arizona’s clear-cut closer for 2021.
A day out from their Opening Day matchup with the San Diego Padres, the D-backs have remained mum on who will get the ball to close out the first game of the season (and beyond).
General manager Mike Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Wednesday there’s a method to the madness.
“Do I think we necessarily have a closer in name [Wednesday]? No. Do I think we’re going to have a closer within the first short window of time — just how things settle and guys taking roles? Yes I do,” Hazen said. “I just think that’s the way Torey’s kinda managed the bullpen from the very, very back.
“Do I know that we’re going to have a closer for the entirety of the season? Do I know that the first crack at the closing job is going to be the last one? No. I would agree with the fact that we haven’t signed someone and declared them a closer. That is a fact. I’m fairly confident we’re going to have a closer on our baseball team.”
Looking at the team’s closer options, Stefan Crichton provides a familiar face, having recorded five saves in his final six appearances to close out 2020. Newcomers Joakim Soria and Chris Devenski are also in the mix to get the ball late.
Devenski had the best spring among the three bullpen arms, recording seven scoreless appearances (7.0 IP) and seven strikeouts. He allowed just four hits and three walks.
“I told him I’m not going to identify a closer,” Lovullo said ahead of the team’s Cactus League finale after announcing Devenski made the D-backs roster. “I don’t feel the need to do that right now.
“We’re just gonna have some backend guys that we’re gonna match up and get through the game to win the game. He’s on board with that idea.”
As for the other two in the mix, Soria allowed five earned runs over 4.2 innings of work, while Crichton gave up seven in 4.0 this spring.
Crichton struck out six batters, compared to Soria’s four, but posted a 15.75 ERA. Soria finished the spring with a 9.64 ERA.