It’s pounded into the head of every amateur athlete: There’s no I in team.
Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden: It’s amazing what can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.
The list of statements, phrases and quotes attempting to eliminate the individual ego from team concept are endless. None of them apply to Archie Bradley. It is not about team. It is about him. Archie Bradley must be sent to the Reno Aces before his next start.
Archie Bradley has a chance to be a special major league starter. Most projections put him in the range of “ace” for a weak staff and a solid #2 for a playoff contender. His career isn’t derailed because of a trip to the minors. He’ll be back.
Archie Bradley isn’t a true competitor if he’s hoping for a demotion, but this isn’t up to him. Bradley’s ERA before a comebacker hit him in the face on April 28 was 1.80. May was 11.81 and June now sits at a 9.00.
A shot to the face could take a major toll physically. Out of fear for the next comebacker, Bradley could be short-arming his fastball in order get to his defensive position quicker, causing a drop in velocity which closes the gap between his fastball and changeup. Breaking balls could also be affected because it’s hard to stay on top of your breaking stuff if you’re worried about hurrying through your motion to prepare for the ball coming at your sinus cavity.
Bradley’s issues could be completely psychological. The young man is only 22 years old. He’s never faced adversity like this in a professional setting. He can taste his dreams and so many kids overreact to issues, thinking it’s the end of the world. Getting rocked by a line drive could have robbed him of just enough confidence that he took the mound with question marks going through his mind. Once those answers came back showing bad results, he threw pitches hoping to get batters out instead of knowing the batter would get himself out.
Out of every position in sports, I think only a hockey goaltender relies on confidence more than a starting pitcher. Clearly, it’s important to any human being and especially so in every aspect of professional sports. The difference for a pitcher is the immediate results of one bad pitch mounting to one bad inning, one bad outing, one bad month and, “suddenly” the pitcher can’t get out of a tailspin.
The D-backs have three options:
1) Keep him the D-Backs’ rotation
2) Put him in the D-Backs’ bullpen
3) Put him in the Aces’ rotation.
Option #1 brings the same results. Major League Baseball is not the place for a struggling 22-year-old to regain confidence.
Option #2 helps to keep him around his Major League pitching coach, but he’s a starting pitcher so it’s a bad option. If you really want to mess with his confidence, place him in a heated situation in the 7th inning. The only other bullpen spot is mop-up duty, which would be a waste of time and talent.
Sending him to the Reno Aces allows him to work on mechanics and confidence — the two things that are hurting him — with far less pressure. He’ll be told that winning or losing doesn’t matter. He can focus on each batter and just get outs. If he works on simple mechanics, Bradley will see his stuff naturally take hold and trust it again.
There aren’t very many professions where a demotion is a good thing. For Archie Bradley, it is the best thing.