The Diamondbacks have made some difficult but necessary decisions lately.
Namely, two decisions involving their pitching staff; When Zack Godley continued to struggle six starts into the season, the team moved him to the bullpen. And then, after Archie Bradley gave up five runs without recording an out on Sunday and saw his ERA balloon to 4.50, Lovullo told reporters this week that Bradley may no longer face the opposing team’s heart of the order.
It may be a sign of renewed perspective and, as Lovullo called it, “street cred,” that he’s been able to execute decisions that may be painful for the players involved.
“I feel like everybody needs to walk through every situation and learn from it and grow and get to be the best version of themselves,” Lovullo told Burns & Gambo on Tuesday. “I was a little late to the party at times last year because of my loyalty.”
Lovullo admitted on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station that he may have previously stuck with players a little too much for a little too long, until that loyalty turned to trouble for the D-backs. This year, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“I feel like you can always default to being loyal to the player,” he said. “However, when it becomes a little bit of a distraction or detrimental to the player and the rest of the 24 guys, you can’t put one guy ahead of the group. So, I needed to make that type of an adjustment, and I think what I’ve done the past couple years with these guys is I’ve built up a little bit of street cred with them. And they know that I’m coming from a good place.”
Godley said after his demotion to the bullpen that he respected his manager’s decision and admitted he needed to pitch better. Maybe that’s the culmination of that street cred Lovullo has built, now in his third year as D-backs manager with an NL Manager of the Year award under his belt.
As for the change for Bradley, Lovullo said a lot of it has to do with fastball command and being able to locate it in different spots. As Bradley works on that, he’ll be deployed in situations where he may not face the harder parts of a team’s lineup.
“What I’ve asked Archie to do the past couple of seasons, and he’s been so good at it, is he was always facing the bulk of the order,” Lovullo said, adding that while the bottom of the order isn’t three guaranteed outs, it’s not like facing the middle of a lineup.
“So just to pivot off that, just give him a little bit of a breather, it will allow him to go out there and execute some game plans and simplify some things and not have to worry about making one mistake to one of the best hitters in the lineup, potentially, where you get clipped. And you give yourself a chance to go out and pitch and get a little feel back. “