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Heath Bell is still the Diamondbacks’ closer for some reason

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Heath Bell gave up a homer in his fifth consecutive game on Saturday and his ERA is at 5.02, but he’s still the Dbacks’ closer reports Tyler Emerick of MLB.com:

 “Pretty much the way it is, he’s going to be our closer,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “We want to get him turned around  … Is the right thing to do to put [Bell] in the fire again, or give him a day off? I’m a strong advocate of defeating the beast.”

Gibson may still use other guys in various situations depending on the matchups, he said, but Bell is still apparently covered in magic closer’s fairy dust. Because, one assume, once upon a time he had some success as a closer.

Heath Bell allows homer in fifth consecutive appearance

Heath Bell
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Diamondbacks closer Heath Bell surrendered a two-run home run to Jay Bruce in the top of the ninth inning that turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit. It marked the fifth consecutive game in which Bell has allowed a homerun:

  • June 10 @ Dodgers: Juan Uribe walk-off solo home run
  • June 12 @ Dodgers: Ramon Hernandez solo home run (note: Hernandez was designated for assignment today)
  • June 17 vs. Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton go-ahead solo home run
  • June 19 vs. Marlins: Justin Ruggiano go-ahead three-run home run
  • June 22 vs. Reds: Jay Bruce go-ahead two-run home run

Bell’s ERA is now 5.02, a year after posting a 5.09 ERA in 63.2 innings. In fairness, aside from the home runs, his defense-independent stats (strikeouts and walks) are back at the same level when he was a dominant closer with the Padres. However, his fastball velocity is on a three-year decline and he no longer benefits from a pitcher-friendly home ballpark.

You have to wonder how much longer the Diamondbacks, nursing a 2.5-game lead in the NL West, will continue trotting Bell out in save situations.

The Diamondbacks bailed out Bell in the bottom of the ninth, however, as Jason Kubel helped walk off with a two-run, bases-loaded single to center against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

Heath Bell watched Thursday’s Reds-Marlins game from the stands

Heath Bell Getty
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It turns out that Diamondbacks reliever Heath Bell made his return to Marlins Park on Thursday night, not for last night’s series opener. According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, Bell said that he took in Thursday’s Reds-Marlins game from the stands.

The D-backs arrived in Miami in the wee hours Thursday morning and Bell took a cab to Marlins Park, bought a ticket at the window and sat and watched the Marlins battle the Reds. After struggling mightily with the Marlins last year, Bell was heavily booed when he would come in to pitch and he expects a similar reception this weekend, but Thursday he sat among the fans in peace.

Why go to a baseball game on your day off?

“Why not go to the game?” Bell said. “Just bought a ticket and stayed low key. I didn’t wear a hat. I think with a hat, people would have recognized me more. We always watch games, but it’s just different to watch the game in the stands. Watching a game from the stands is just completely different from what we usually do. It’s almost like you want to go play, but you can’t. You have to wait a day.”

In all fairness, Heath, it’s easy to go unrecognized when nobody is around you.

While Bell did put a few dollars in Jeffrey Loria’s pocket on Thursday, the Marlins are paying $4 million of his $8.5 million salary this season. That technically makes him the team’s second-highest paid player behind right-hander Ricky Nolasco.