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Arizona Diamondbacks

Updated May 4, 2017 - 1:40 pm

Archie Bradley on bullpen role: ‘Why fix something if it’s not broken?’

Arizona Diamondbacks' Archie Bradley throws a pitch against the Colorado Rockies during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, April 29, 2017, in Phoenix. The Rockies defeated the Diamondbacks 7-6. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Diamondbacks right-hander Archie Bradley has seen his career take a bit of an unexpected turn.

When five other pitchers proved worthy of spots in the starting rotation this spring, Bradley was sent to the bullpen, a new spot for the 24-year-old who had started in all 34 of his prior major league appearances. But he’s thrived there this year, posting a 1.13 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched.

Bradley told Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station on Thursday that he envisioned himself remaining a starter in his career.

“Every player, regardless of what position they play, they always have kind of an opinion or some sort of layout of how they think their career is going to go,” he said. “For me, I’ve always had the starter thought, that I’m a starter and that’s the way it’s going to go. To be honest, I still kind of have that train of thought.”

Bradley pitched as a starter all throughout his minor league career and in the first two seasons of his journey in the big leagues. He showed promise, ranking as one of the D-backs’ top prospects and allowing only four runs in his first 20 innings of major-league work before landing on the DL.

But maybe what seemed like a relegation to a middle-inning role has helped get Bradley back into form.

“With the way I’m throwing the ball in this new role, obviously your mind starts to wander a little bit,” he said. “‘Maybe the bullpen is for me. Maybe that’s where I’m supposed to go.'”

Bradley said the adjustment to a new routine has helped him realize that he doesn’t need all of the superstition and preparation that he once depended on before his starts. That, in turn, could help him if he returns to starting pitching.

“I think that’s where the bullpen has helped me the most. You don’t have the luxury of stretching for thirty minutes or preparing for a team for four days,” he said. “It’s freed my mind. It’s freed my preparation and just understanding that I can get ready way faster than I thought I could. … You don’t need all the — I call it nonsense now. All the nonsense I did beforehand as a starter.

“It’s really mentally and physically made me stronger as a baseball player.”

It’s unclear, at this point, exactly what his future holds. When Shelby Miller went on the DL, there was speculation that Bradley could become a starting pitcher once again. Instead, he remains in the bullpen.

With his success out of the ‘pen, could he become a closer?

“I think that where you can kind of get lost in everything is if you try to think too far ahead or think about different roles,” Bradley said. “I know it’s kind of a boring answer and it’s one I’ve been giving a lot, but I’m honestly just staying in a lane, I’m so locked in with the zone I’m in, the way I’m throwing the ball. I’m just really trying to be ready for when that phone rings.”

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