PHOENIX -- At the end of Spring Training, Bryan Shaw's role in the D-backs' bullpen was undefined.
But, armed with an improved pitch repertoire and with Takashi Saito still nursing a calf injury, Shaw has stepped into the third-reliever role through nine games in 2012.
"He has done a great job," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's developing as a pitcher, and he's got great stuff."
Shaw leads the club with six appearances entering Monday's game against the Pirates and has yet to allow an earned run or a walk.
"He's got a fearless attitude," Gibson said. "If he gets two strikes, he's coming after you, he's not going to nibble around and that's what we like."
With all nine of the D-backs' games this season separated by three runs or less, Gibson has been forced to rest J.J. Putz and call on the 24-year-old to close out games for the team twice. On both occasions Shaw secured the win while picking up the first two saves of his career.
The growth from last year, in the eyes of his manager, has been mostly in his cutter and curveball. Shaw struck out eight batters in August, his best statistical month in 2011. So far this April, he's struck out eight.
"All I see are the results," Gibson said. "He's got a 92-94-mph cutter with good location. In Spring Training, I was encouraging him to throw that two-seamer. But you don't have to throw that if you have the other two pitches that good."