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Chafin's role may change, but not his approach

@SteveGilbertMLB
February 28, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Andrew Chafin does not plan on changing his routine in the coming 2020 regular season. At some point before pitching, the D-backs left-hander will head to the Arizona bullpen and brew up a pot of strong coffee for him and his fellow relievers.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Andrew Chafin does not plan on changing his routine in the coming 2020 regular season.

At some point before pitching, the D-backs left-hander will head to the Arizona bullpen and brew up a pot of strong coffee for him and his fellow relievers.

“Fresh ground beans,” Chafin said. “Sometimes we’ll have some Kona coffee that [bullpen coach Mike Fetters] will have sent from Hawaii. We get some good coffee going down there. I like a very strong coffee so I’m not going to have somebody else make it and not have it be sufficient for my needs.”

The one thing that will be different for Chafin in 2020 is the number of batters he will face.

With the new rule that states a relief pitcher must face at least three batters (unless the inning ends first), left-handed specialists like Chafin are going to have to face right-handers more often than they have in the past.

It’s going to be an adjustment for D-backs manager Torey Lovullo, who has used Chafin for the opposition’s toughest lefty, like Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger.

“I haven’t really put my arms around it,” Lovullo said of the new rule. “I do know this. I preserved Andrew Chafin to the best of my ability to face the top left-handed hitter in every lineup knowing full well that he could get right-handed batters out too. But because of the amount of usage, I would always pick those critical times and preserve him the best way I could. I can’t do that now, so I’ve got to kind of reload my thoughts on what the best angle is for his usage.”

For Chafin, the equation is far simpler.

“My role is to go out and pitch when they call my name,” he said. “It might change when they call my name but it ain’t going to change how I go out and pitch. So, for me it doesn’t really change anything.”

Chafin leads the Majors in appearances with 225 from 2017-19, and not coincidentally he also leads baseball in appearances of less than an inning over that same span with 139.

The 29-year-old came up through the D-backs organization as a starting pitcher before being shifted to the bullpen after debuting with the D-backs at the end of 2014.

While Lovullo used him as his specialist, Chafin has a history of getting right-handers out as well.

Over the last three years Chafin has held righties to batting averages of .256 (2019), .193 (2018) and .263 (2017). Over that same time frame lefties have hit .258, .258 and .222 against him.

“I know he can get righties out,” D-backs closer Archie Bradley said.

Lovullo has joked about how perturbed Chafin can be when he takes him out of a game after facing just one batter and the new rule could actually benefit Chafin’s career as lefties who can also get right-handers out become more valuable.

Still, he’s not a fan of the change.

“I think it gives me an opportunity to show what I can really do,” Chafin said. “It’s going to give me a chance to go out there and prove my worth and all that kind of stuff. So, for me personally, I think it will benefit things. I still don’t like it though. There’s a handful of guys out there, your true lefty specialists that it’s really going to hurt or ruin careers and I don’t like the idea of that at all.”

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.