Given the number of teams that could use a strong left-handed option out of the bullpen, it’s a bit of a surprise that Andrew Chafin sat in the free agent market until February. The 32-year-old is now off, as Chafin is set to return to the team that drafted him out of Kent State in 2011. Chafin has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks, giving Arizona another left-handed option.
Related: How the Cubs Bullpen Looks with the Addition of Michael Fulmer
A Look at Chafin
For most of his MLB career, Andrew Chafin has been a reliable reliever that has shown the ability to beat both left and right-handed hitters. Chafin started his career with the D-Backs, as he spent the first seven years of his MLB career in Arizona. The 32-year-old struggled in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, as Chafin gave up six earned runs over 11 games (6.2 IP) with Arizona. In August, the Diamondbacks moved Chafin to the Cubs.
Since that trade, Chafin got back on track. After three solid innings out the pen in 2020, Chafin struck out 64 over 68.2 innings with the Cubs and A’s in 2021. In that season, the lefty sported a 1.83 ERA.
With the Tigers last season, “The Sheriff” struck out 67 over 57.1 IP, and pitched to the tune of a 2.83 ERA. Much of that success could be attributed to a plus slider, one that had an exceptionally high 60.4% Whiff% rate last season. 31.0% of Chafin’s sliders from 2022 were chase whiffs, pitchers that were out of the zone but still resulted in a swing-and-miss. It’s a pitch that sits in the low-80’s — about 10 MPH less than his fastball — and one that can break late and get hitters to bite. Couple that movement with a keen ability to command it down to the glove side, and it’s a devastating weapon against left-handed hitters.
After two-and-a-half seasons away from Arizona, Chafin is set to return to the D-Backs for this upcoming season.
What it Means
With Chafin back in Arizona, here’s a look at how the Diamondbacks bullpen could shake out for 2023:
- LHP Andrew Chafin
- LHP Joe Mantiply
- LHP Kyle Nelson
- RHP Miguel Castro
- RHP Kevin Ginkel
- RHP Mark Melancon
- RHP Scott McGough
RHPs Tyler Holton and Cole Sulser, the latter of whom pitched well with the Orioles in 2021, could also factor in to the equation.
Chafin is set to join a solid group of lefties in the D-Backs bullpen, alongside All-Star Joe Mantiply and Kyle Nelson. Both Mantiply (2.85) and Kyle Nelson (2.19) sported sub-3.00 ERAs for the D-Backs in 2022.
As far as the rest of the pen is concerned, Kevin Ginkel and probable closer Mark Melancon are set to return. Hard-throwing righty Miguel Castro signed with Arizona this winter after spending 2022 with the Yankees. Castro can blow away hitters with a fastball or a slider, but does have trouble with command. The 28-year-old sports a career BB% of 12.3%, well below the league average.
Then, there Scott McGough. McGough comes over to the D-Backs after spending our season with the Yakult Swallows in Japan. In four seasons with Yakult, McGough owned a very respectable 2.94 ERA, and struck out 251 over 232.2 innings in the NPB.