Brad Boxberger led the American League with 41 saves for the Rays in 2015, but he missed 115 days due to groin surgery and later an oblique injury in 2016. A strained lat muscle then cost him about three months to start 2017. He returned to post his best ERA (3.38) since 2014. It came with rebounds in strikeouts, with his 12.3 K/9 up from 8.1 in 2016, and walks, to a 3.4 per nine, respectable for a K-happy reliever. The right-hander posted his best percentage of pitches in the strike zone (51.2 percent) since 2014, which shows he gained confidence working around the plate. Home runs still bug him -- he's allowed at least 1.11 per nine in the last five years -- and Chase Field may make matters worse in that regard. However, his arrival with the Diamondbacks rejuvenates hope for a return to closing duties. Archie Bradley and Jimmie Sherfy represent significant his biggest road blocks to the ninth inning.
Boxberger has given up one run on four hits and a walk over four frames while striking out three batters through four Cactus League appearances. Boxberger was briefly shelved earlier this month with arm soreness, but the 29-year-old is in no danger of missing the start of the season after completing three outings without incident since being cleared to face hitters. At this point, the main storyline surrounding Boxberger is if he'll open the season as the Diamondbacks' closer or if Archie Bradley or Yoshihisa Hirano will handle those duties. None of the three pitchers have earned a save opportunity or finished a game this spring, making it difficult to handicap who will emerge with the role.
Boxberger (arm) threw a scoreless inning in Thursday's Cactus League game against the Brewers, Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic reports. Boxberger missed some time this spring with general soreness in his throwing arm but was able to throw an effective bullpen session earlier this week and ultimately made his return to the field Thursday. The reliever's fastball was reportedly sitting in the 91-to-93 mph range, which is roughly in line with his average velocity from last season. The 29-year-old is firmly in the mix for the Diamondbacks' closer role heading into the season.
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said that Boxberger (arm) was "very aggressive and looked good" during a 25-pitch bullpen session Sunday, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports. Since making his Cactus League (and Diamondbacks) debut with a scoreless inning Feb. 23 against the Rockies, Boxberger has been unavailable in exhibition play after coming out of that outing with general arm soreness. Boxberger has since thrown multiple bullpen sessions, and with his latest one Sunday seemingly going without a hitch, there's a good chance the right-hander will be cleared to pitch in a game this week. Though Boxberger has been sidelined for more than a week with the injury, Lovullo reiterated that Boxberger remains in contention along with Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano for the Diamondbacks' vacancy at closer.
Manager Torey Lovullo said Boxberger (arm) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday, Zach Buchanan of The Athletic reports. Boxberger is getting back into a throwing program after a bout of arm soreness forced him to back off of throwing for a little bit. Barring any setbacks in his upcoming bullpen session, the 29-year-old will likely progress to facing live hitters from there before ultimately making his return to Cactus League action. Once healthy, Boxberger will continue to compete with the likes of Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano for the D-backs' closer role.
Boxberger will compete with Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano for the D-backs' closer role this spring, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports. Acquired from the Rays in November, Boxberger offers past experience as a closer, and his struggles with injury in each of the last two seasons may lead the D-backs to limit him mostly to three-out appearances. It's not unreasonable to think that Boxberger might be the early favorite to take on the job, as using him as the closer gives manager Torey Lovullo more flexibility with Archie Bradley, who can be tasked with multiple innings as needed. Nevertheless, it's expected that the D-backs will make their plans for the ninth inning known at some point near the end of spring training.