The struggles for Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley have continued in May, to a point where the question becomes what the D-backs ultimately do with the pitcher.
A more unconventional idea is moving Bradley back to a role as a starting pitcher, the one he entered the majors as while being one of the highest-rated pitching prospects Arizona has had this decade.
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo Tuesday that is not a proposal that has come up for them yet.
“We have not had those discussions,” he said.
“We’re trying to get Archie into the right situations and the right time and just keep pushing him forward. And if it’s going to be a baby step today and maybe a bigger leap tomorrow, we’re ready for that.”
Bradley was one of the best relievers in all of baseball two seasons ago but saw his numbers slightly dip in 2018 from a 1.73 ERA to 3.64. The right-hander, though, wasn’t allowing many more runners, with his WHIP only rising slightly from 1.04 to 1.14.
But that’s where the story has changed this season, as he sports a 1.79 WHIP alongside his 4.03 ERA through 22.1 innings.
After a collapse on May 5 in which Bradley gave up four earned runs and lost his third game of the season, his role was changed from the D-backs’ go-to against the prime real estate of the opposition’s batting order to further down on the totem pole. Since then, Bradley has still had issues, including a blown save on Monday against the Colorado Rockies.
“The numbers don’t lie,” Lovullo said. “Archie needs to step up and get the job done and finish it off.”
Lovullo isn’t willing to give up on the possibility that the pitcher Bradley was in 2017 can still be there for the D-backs this season.
“What he did in ’17 wasn’t by accident,” Lovullo said. “The whole league knew all about Archie Bradley and he was still stepping up there on that rubber, letting it all hang and overmatching guys so we know that that’s possible.”
That season was Bradley’s first in the bullpen. He started eight games in 2015 before taking a line drive to the face and missing the rest of the season. In 26 outings the following year, Bradley had a 5.02 ERA and an 8-9 record.
Lovullo said the persistence of giving Bradley opportunities comes down to the D-backs needing their reliever to get back to his past dominant ways.
“We love what he can give us,” he said. “We need him to get back to that form for those big moments.”