Over the last week, left-handed reliever Joe Paterson has been very ineffective for the Arizona Diamondbacks. On Monday night, he came in to pitch the ninth inning of a 9-0 game. Five batters later, without having recorded a single out, five runs had crossed the plate.
His previous outing? He also faced five hitters without retiring any. And the one previous to that? He retired three hitters and gave up four baserunners, three of which would score.
If you're keeping track, 14 of the last 17 batters have reached base and 10 have scored runs. He has pitched only 2.2 innings in six appearances. His ERA is 37.13. What's wrong? "He's not locating the ball right now," said manager Kirk Gibson. "He probably doesn't have a lot of confidence right now, so it's something he's got to work on."
Those sort of numbers do not belong on a major league roster. So what do you do with him?
Now before we go on, it is important to note that Paterson seems to be best fit as the "left-handed specialist" that comes in to face one or to left-handed hitters. His last three outings have come in either mop-up duty with a big deficit or, as was the case on Monday night, a very large lead.
Kirk Gibson said that with Wade Miley making a start on Monday, with lefties Paterson and Craig Breslow in the bullpen, Paterson could go back to that role he had.
But lefties are hitting .444 of him so far this season.
Paterson is young and has options available. He easily could be sent down to the minors to get right.
If that were to happen, they would be without a guy in the bullpen that is effective against lefties. Breslow is a lefty, but his career numbers show that he is more effective against righties than lefties. Miley is the same way.
However, Gibson values Miley's ability to pitch in relief or start, but after his start on Monday, he will be unavailable to pitch at all for a few days.
So there are a couple of ways to go. First of all would be to only use him in a specialist role and hope he settles in that way.
Second on the list would be to send him down to the minors. They could call up a starter and use Miley and Breslow as the lefties out of the bullpen.
The other option is actually intriguing. The Diamondbacks have a lefty in Reno that they were impressed by in spring training -- Mike Zagurski. In the end, a numbers game kept him off the big league roster. He ended up clearing waivers and has allowed two earned runs in nine AAA innings. Bringing him up would be possible and they could send down Paterson and see how he does in the bigs. However, he has no options and would have to clear waivers again to be sent down.
The solution? The Zagurski option seems to make the most sense. If he succeeds, they have their lefty specialist and Paterson is left in the minors to work on things. If Zagurski pitches poorly, then he likely will clear waivers again and he can be reassigned. Paterson can come back again after getting things set.
But in the meantime, the current trend of things says a change need to be made. Zagurski seems to be the one to make the most sense.