Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley wanted to break out in 2015.
Instead, he ended up losing his starting job after struggling to recapture his early form following a facial injury suffered when a comebacker put him on the disabled list. Bradley hung around longer in 2016 with 26 starts to eight a year prior, but his 5.02 ERA was an eyesore.
So it would seem 2017 is the right-hander’s make-or-break year.
The 24-year-old is in the mix to win a backend rotation spot for Arizona, and ESPN’s David Schoenfield listed him as one of several MLB players facing a fork in the road when it comes to their career trajectories.
With Arizona, however, he was still too hittable — batters hit .308 and slugged .503 against his fastball — and he still walked too many guys, his problem throughout his minor league career. He’s just 24, but for him to reach that top-of-the-rotation potential he flashed when he was a top-10 prospect in the game, he needs to throw more strikes and command the fastball.
Bradley’s spring has seen its bright spots and low points already. He gave up five hits and three runs in four innings in his Sunday start against San Francisco, but only one run was earned as Bradley suffered a throwing error in the game.
His most recent outing was a positive sign for D-backs manager Torey Lovullo, who on Tuesday joined the Burns and Gambo show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
“In Archie’s case, we didn’t evaluate the runs that he gave up or the unearned runs or really even the play that he didn’t make that led to a couple extra pitches and some runs,” Lovullo said. “We evaluated the stuff, which was very crisp. It was probably his best outing from where I was sitting. He was commanding all pitches in all areas of the zone — he was finishing off hitters.”
As far as Schoenfield is concerned, Bradley, a former top-10 prospect, will win a starting job but have his bumps and bruises in 2017. And because he’s still only 24 years old, the D-backs — and analysts — will call it a season closer to making Bradley than breaking him.
Prediction: He’s a little better than last year, lowering his ERA to 4.50, then appears on this list again.