Inbox: Should Hirano be the high-leverage guy?

Beat reporter Steve Gilbert answers questions from D-backs fans

September 6th, 2018

Should be the high-leverage guy?
-- Antoine, Montreal

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has said repeatedly since Sunday that Brad Boxberger will remain the team's closer. Over the past 10 days or so, the only changes that Lovullo has made with regards to the ninth inning is that if a lefty leads off that frame, he has used left-hander to face him and then gone to Boxberger for the next two hitters. This late in the season, Lovullo said he doesn't want to change things up too much at the back end of the bullpen. Hirano, though, will continue to pitch in leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings as he has done since Opening Day.
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Give us D-backs fans a reason to be optimistic after what happened in L.A. over the weekend.
-- Devon, Phoenix

No question that the final three games against the Dodgers were tough to take for fans, so I understand some of the frustration that I've been hearing from them this week. Still, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic because there's still 23 games to play and the D-backs have seven games left against the Rockies and three against the Dodgers. Keep in mind the Dodgers and Rockies play each other six more times, starting this weekend, so at least one of them will be losing on those days, which also gives the D-backs an opportunity to make up ground. The D-backs do have a tough schedule starting Thursday against the Braves, but if they take care of their own business and start putting together wins, then making up the 1 1/2 games in the standings is not that big of a challenge.
Is the best chance for the D-backs to make the playoffs as a Wild Card or division winner?
-- Adam, Santa Fe, N.M.

I think at this point their best chance is to win the division. The Cardinals and Brewers are battling hard with the Cubs at the moment, and I'm not sure any of those three are going to fall off the pace.
Who are you most looking forward to watching as a September callup?
-- Brenda, Atlanta

I'm really interested to see right-hander Yoan Lopez (No. 18 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline) pitch. Signed before the 2015 season out of Cuba, he initially had some maturity issues on and off the field, but has really worked hard over the last few years and, by all accounts, has overcome them. He still has an electric fastball and slider and I think it would be a neat story to see him have success after what he's been through. Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the fact that international signings or players taken in the Draft are, for the most part, very young and inexperienced. We expect them to suddenly become mature, experienced players when that's not always realistic right away.