Bullpen generous to a fault in early going

Bullpen generous to a fault in early going

CHICAGO -- The D-backs bullpen has been far too generous this year for manager A.J. Hinch's liking.

Heading into Saturday, Arizona relievers have walked 38 batters this year, an average of five per nine innings, second-worst in the National League.

"The walks out of our bullpen are killing us," Hinch said. "To me it's more of an approach. Guys start pitching away from contact. It's a timid way to approach the hitter. They're coming in with generally the game on the line and game-changing-type at-bats and it takes a lot of conviction to pound the strike zone. But that's what the good bullpens do. They allow contact on the ground, they pitch with an aggressiveness that is necessary to get through that."

One example of the bullpen's struggles in that area came Friday when Blaine Boyer walked three in one-third of an inning, one of which forced in a run. Aaron Heilman then came on in relief and he walked in a run before getting out of the inning.

"It's a rut that we can get out of," Hinch said. "We should be a contact-based bullpen. I think they can throw strikes, my concern is whether or not they have the conviction to make pitches. The easiest thing to do is to try to pitch around that contact and get them to maybe get themselves out, but it's a tough league to do that in."

Bases-loaded walks have been an issue for the pitching staff as a whole this year as it entered Saturday having walked a league-high seven with the sacks full.