Yoan Lopez Bounces Back
Reliever Yoan Lopez's major league debut came last year during the second week of September, a dreadful performance in the final moments of a disappointing loss.
As far as the Diamondbacks are concerned, however, Lopez didn’t truly arrive until a couple of weeks later, during an outing against the Dodgers, when he showed dominance and bravado.
On Sept. 25, Lopez pitched his way out of a jam in the eighth inning, protecting a one-run lead, and on his way off the mound, he screamed in triumph before seemingly mocking then-Dodgers star Manny Machado with an animated gesture.
"I’m not going to lie to you, I absolutely loved it,” D-backs pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "I love when guys show good, positive emotion.”
That appearance was part of a strong finish to the year for the club’s most intriguing relief prospect. A righthander with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a swing-and-miss slider, Lopez has the weapons to hold down a late-inning role. The Dodgers game suggested he might have the demeanor for it, as well.
"You don’t always have to be that stoic guy out there on the mound,” Butcher said. "It wasn’t showmanship; it was natural, it was real. That’s what you want. You don’t want anything that’s planned out. It was true emotion. That’s competitiveness, man. I loved it.”
The performance was one of nine consecutive scoreless appearances that came after his miserable debut, in which he gave up two homers and a triple without recording an out.
The finish gives him some momentum heading into spring training, although he might only have an outside shot of winning an Opening Day roster spot. That said, he managed to give the organization a clear look at his potential upside.
"He bounced back after his first outing,” Butcher said. "That means a lot to everybody and we’ll definitely remember what he did last year. He can build off of those things. He’s got a dynamic arm, we obviously think a lot of him as an organization and he’s got a lot of opportunity ahead of him. It’s going to be fun to watch.”