Lovullo shortens Boxberger's path to save

D-backs skipper opts for lefty-lefty matchup before calling on closer

September 1st, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- In his last two outings, D-backs closer Brad Boxberger has picked up a pair of saves. He didn't pitch a full inning either time.

That's because, in both cases, there was a left-handed hitter leading off the inning and manager Torey Lovullo decided to use lefty before turning things over to Boxberger.

Boxberger, who has saved 31 games this year, has fared much better against righties, holding them to a .565 OPS, as opposed to the .838 mark lefties have posted against the right-hander.

"We developed a strategy here late in the season that this is go time," Lovullo said. "This is a really important time in the year. Not that Brad couldn't [get lefties out] or doesn't want to do it, I just want to create the best path to winning the game."

Communication is important to Lovullo, who made sure he talked with Boxberger before first utilizing the strategy on Wednesday night in San Francisco.

"He was perfectly on board," Lovullo said. "He didn't care. If we got to the point in the season where you can call yourself a champion, you don't care how you get there, and he signed off on it and said he'll do whatever it takes to help us win games."

Pays off

A week ago, the D-backs decided to take advantage of a pair of off-days to flip and Robbie Ray in the rotation.

The move paid dividends when Godley defeated the Giants on Wednesday night and Ray followed up by pitching well against the Dodgers on Thursday night.

"Yeah, I think both guys have thrown the ball very, very well, and the matchups were something that we examined and we really, really liked," Lovullo said. "It's a credit to them for trusting us and not asking for too many reasons as to why. They just take the baseball and go out there and address their game plan, and it's worked out really, really well. Obviously, you know us, there's a strategy for it, and you can probably figure out some of the reasons why."

By starting the left-handed Ray against the Dodgers, Los Angeles was without left-handed hitters , and in their starting lineup.