PHOENIX -- In a bullpen that has been the focus of much criticism in 2013, Will Harris has stood out as an unsung hero. Since May 22, the right-hander has been flat-out dominant, posting a 0.96 ERA with 23 strikeouts over 18 2/3 innings through Friday.
But all the success is somewhat new to Harris.
In 20 games with the Rockies last season, his first in the Majors, Harris allowed 18 runs (16 earned) over 17 2/3 innings.
So what's been the difference this year? According to FanGraphs, Harris' average fastball velocity is 1.3-mph higher than last season (from 91.1 to 92.4), while his cutter is 1.9-mph quicker (from 90.1 to 92.0).
Although he isn't sure of the exact reason for the uptick, Harris thinks at least part of it stems from the work he put in while recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2009.
"Not really throwing for a few years, last year was really my first year healthy, and I think the further I've removed myself from that, the arm strength has built over time," said Harris, 28. "Not so much that the ligament makes you throw harder, it's the workout regimen in the training room that makes you get more out of your arm than maybe you knew you had.
"I'm happy with where it's at, I have my days where it's tired, but for the most part, I'm right where I hoped I'd be."
Because of Harris' recent successes, the D-backs have begun using him in higher leverage situations. In each of his past two outings, the righty entered with the bases loaded in one-run games. Against the Dodgers on Wednesday, Harris induced a double play to escape the jam, and then on Friday, he struck out the lone batter he faced, Brewers All-Star Carlos Gomez, touching 95 mph on the radar gun in the at-bat.
Not bad for a guy whom the Rockies and A's put on waivers back in April.
"This has definitely been the best-case scenario for me," he said. "If you would've told me that in mid-July I'd be on a big league roster for a team in first place, I would've been stoked."
Parra slumping, sits for second straight game
PHOENIX -- For the second consecutive day and the fourth time this month, D-backs outfielder Gerardo Parra was out of the lineup Saturday.
While trying to make a running catch against the Mets on July 1, the 26-year-old crashed into the outfield wall and came away bruised and bloodied. Parra sat out the next two games before returning to action, but his numbers have sagged ever since.
In 39 at-bats this month, Parra has just six hits and is batting .154. He hit .305 in April, .311 in May and .288 in June.
"It'll be good for him, just because of the way he plays," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "The one against the Mets, it's like he got in a car accident. He sacrificed himself. He's just beat up so I made that decision. If you look at the numbers, you might figure it out."
Asked whether Parra will sit again Sunday in the club's final game before the All-Star break, Gibson replied, "I don't know, we'll see."
Delgado could head to 'pen when rotation heals up
PHOENIX -- The D-backs expect to get injured starters Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy back sometime around the end of July or early August, and when that happens, the club will need to reshuffle its pitching staff to make room. On Saturday, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson discussed one potential scenario, moving right-hander Randall Delgado to the bullpen to either replace Josh Collmenter as the long man or share the role with him.
Gibson has talked recently about using Collmenter in a role other than multiple-inning relief, so with Delgado in the bullpen, the D-backs would have Collmenter freed up.
"We kind of have a bullpen full of one-inning guys," Gibson said. "Besides Collmenter, we haven't been able to throw a guy two innings, and if we do, he's down for a day or two. So that's something that's appealing."
Gibson said the plan is currently in the "prototype stage" but that above everything else, he wants to make sure whoever is pitching well, regardless of role, stays with the big league club.
Entering his start on Saturday night, Delgado (1-3, 3.82 ERA) had yet to allow more than three earned runs in a start since joining the rotation.
"If you deserve to be here, you're going to be here," Gibson said. "In the end, the guys that are going to throw the best are going to be here. We'll figure it out from there."
• The D-backs would like to use Brad Ziegler less frequently in the second half of the season. The right-hander enters Saturday tied for the Major League lead in appearances with 49.
"Somebody else has to pick him up, he's gassed," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He doesn't bounce back like he used to and that's because we've used him too much. We've went to that well a lot. If we keep doing it like this, it's going to be too hard on him to be successful."
• Following the All-Star break, the D-backs will work out in San Francisco on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. MST before taking on the Giants the following day.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.