Jose Valverde passed Byung-Hyun Kim as the Diamondbacks' franchise leader in saves earlier this season, and stand poised to break Kim's Arizona single-season high of 36 sometime this month. Valverde therefore doesn't need to worry about his job being usurped. The question is, what Diamondbacks pitcher does?[premium]
Kim has always expressed a preference towards starting. However, the submariner has always performed a bit better out of the bullpen:
L S IP ERA
H R ER HR BB SO
as Starter 22 32 0 442.2 4.76 457 256 234 56 196 346
as Reliever 28 25 86 361.2 3.51 264 153 141 29 169 423
It's actually pretty difficult to fathom Kim outperforming either Yusmeiro Petit or Micah Owings, the two most likely candidates to be usurped in the Diamondbacks' rotation. Perhaps GM Josh Byrnes has a post deadline deal in mind that would move free agent-to-be Livan Hernandez, who has struggled to a 1-5 record and 6.58 ERA over the past two months.
If Kim were to move into a bullpen role, his primary value would lie in retiring right-handed batters. His distinctive arm slot makes it difficult for righties to pick up the ball out of his hand. Right handed hitters have hit just .214 against Kim over the course of his career.
With just two southpaws on the Diamondbacks staff, and just Doug Slaten in the bullpen, a right-handed specialist wouldn't appear to be the Diamondbacks' greatest need. The bullpen has been one of the teams biggest strengths; a big reason why Arizona is nine games over .500 despite a run differential that leads to an expected record seven games under .500.
Kim is probably best known for his two blown saves in the 2001 World Series. He saved three games and allowed just one hit in his first four postseason appearances, then allowed eight hits and eight runs in his final four. Should the Diamondbacks reach the playoffs, they will have to hope that Kim has exorcised his postseason demons.
All in all, Kim still has some use as a major league
player, but he doesn't appear to fit any of the Diamondbacks' immediate needs.