A month ago, even two weeks ago, the Diamondbacks’ biggest need appeared to be a top-of-the-rotation starter.
The D-Backs still could use one, as could most every club. But general manager Kevin Towers is more focused on upgrading his bullpen, according to major-league sources.
Specifically, Towers wants a dominant reliever to pitch in the seventh inning and complement setup man David Hernandez and closer J.J. Putz, sources say.
Towers' idea: To build a late-inning trio similar to the one that he constructed with the Padres — Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams and Heath Bell.
The D-Backs already have reduced their bullpen ERA from a major-league worst 5.74 last season to 3.26 this season, a figure that ranks eighth in the National League.
Hernandez, acquired from the Orioles in the Mark Reynolds trade, been a major part of the turnaround. But the D-Backs would like to find an option superior to righties Esmerling Vasquez and Aaron Heilman in the seventh inning.
The team is set with righties Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson at the top of their rotation. Righty Josh Collmenter has been a revelation, lefty Zach Duke shut out the Astros for seven innings in his 2011 debut and lefty Joe Saunders has a 3.96 ERA in his last six starts. Double A righty Jarrod Parker, meanwhile, could be an option in the second half.
The way the D-Backs see it, their rotation should be good enough to compete. Their offense, third in the NL in runs per game, will provide enough leads.
The trick now is to make the bullpen as strong as it possibly can be.
— Ken Rosenthal