At end of season, Lovullo believes Bradley is best for closer role in 2019
The meltdown of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ bullpen played a large part in their demise and falling out of a playoff spot at the end of the 2018 season.
One of the relievers who had a rough go in the closing stretch of the season was right-hander Archie Bradley, who had monthly ERAs of 6.17, 3.75 and 7.00 to close the year.
That might lead to some skepticism of a big role in the bullpen for him going into 2019, but manager Torey Lovullo is not one of those skeptics.
When asked at the start of October who he believes at the moment should be the closer for the team next season, he named Bradley.
“If you’re trapping me and putting me in a corner and getting ready to throw that left, right combo on me and I’ve gotta make a decision — then I’m entitled to change my mind — I feel like Archie Bradley should be our closer for next year,” he said Tuesday on 98.7 FM’s Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo. “I like the presence. I think the closer needs to have a presence because sometimes that’ll just get you through a situation or two.”
Lovullo added several caveats, noting he could change his mind during the offseason and they have several options.
“It’s a close race,” he said. “It’s 1A, 1B, 1C and 1D … We have some really, really strong pieces of our bullpen that are going to be considered for different roles in different times, but the bottom line is they’re going to go get outs and we are trying to figure out the absolute best way to make good things happen.”
The D-backs’ closer for the majority of the season was Brad Boxberger, who blew eight saves in 2018. In early September after Boxberger had picked up a loss in three of his last four outings, Lovullo said the team was abandoning a traditional closer role and would play matchups the rest of the season.
Bradley, of course, was one of the best relievers in all of baseball two seasons ago in 2017, posting a 1.73 ERA over 73.0 innings.
In the first half of the season, the D-backs bullpen had a 2.85 ERA, the third-best mark in baseball. In the second half of the season, the ERA rose to 4.73, the sixth-worst number in the league.
“We did that well this year — it just kind of ran out of gas on us and I think that’s where a little bit of our downfall was,” Lovullo said.