Torey Lovullo: It makes sense to keep Archie Bradley in D-backs bullpen

May 1, 2017, 6:57 AM | Updated: 2:11 pm

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Archie Bradley (25) in the first inning during a baseball gam...

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Archie Bradley (25) in the first inning during a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Sunday, April 9, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX – Despite the temptation, the Arizona Diamondbacks will not pull the trigger and insert right-hander Archie Bradley into the starting rotation.

The D-backs need a starter after losing right-hander Shelby Miller to a season-ending elbow injury, and while Bradley was a consideration, he ultimately will remain where he’s at, in the bullpen, according to manager Torey Lovullo.

“The way we look at it, he’s been pretty dominant in the bullpen, and we just felt like that’s where he has shown a comfort and for right now we want to continue with that and allow him to continue to be as dominant as he has been. It made a lot of sense for me,” he said Sunday, prior to the D-backs’13-inning victory against Colorado.

The numbers support Lovullo.

Bradley has been without question the D-backs best pitcher, starter or reliever, this season.

In 16 innings coming out of the bullpen, Bradley has a 1.13 ERA. He’s allowed nine hits, including a pair of home runs, with three walks and 19 strikeouts, the most of any non-starter and most by a D-backs reliever in March/April since Byung-Hyun Kim had 19 in 2001-02. Seven of Bradley’s strikeouts came in his first-ever relief appearance against the Giants on April 4.

Asked about Bradley’s long-term future with the D-backs, Lovullo repeated what’s been stated since the end of spring training, when Bradley made the Opening Day roster as a bullpen arm.

“Long-term we’re still going to project him as a starter,” he said, “…but for right now, I felt like Archie’s best role for this team moving forward is out of the bullpen.”

Fair enough.

The D-backs, again, though, still need a starter. Currently, the hole in the rotation — for Wednesday’s game at Washington — is filled by ‘TBD” as in to be determined, according to Lovullo, who added they have “a variety of options” within their minor league system.

Two such options with Triple-A Reno are left-hander Anthony Banda, the team’s No.1 prospect, and right-hander Braden Shipley. Right-hander Zack Godley is not an option. It’s too soon for him to be recalled, unless for an injury, after making a spot start on April 26.

Banda started Saturday and went four innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out five. Over his last five appearances, he’s struck out five or more each time, including an 11-strikeout effort in 5.2 innings on April 23.

Shipley, who has 11 career major-league starts under his belt, is 3-1 in five starts with a 4.18 ERA in Reno.

Whomever the D-backs choose, they’ll be matched up against former D-back Max Scherzer (3-2).

“We have a lot of great candidates and that’s strength of our system, that’s the strength of player development, it’s the strength of what we have here. Obviously, Archie was a candidate,” Lovullo said. “That’s who we are as an organization, we have some depth and our front office has created depth. So we have options and because we have those options we want look at it from as many different angles as possible as who the best candidate would be and we’re still discussing that right now.”


— With a season-best 17 strikeouts on Sunday, D-backs pitchers extended their run of 11+ strikeouts to seven straight games, one shy of the major-league mark set by Cleveland in 2014.

“It’s a statement as to how hard they’ve worked as a group to earn the respect that they deserve,” Lovullo said, “and I know that they were easy targets based on what happened last year and I think internally we recognized that we had a pretty strong staff that needed to just get kick-started. They’ve gone out and performed, and they’ve gone out and done a wonderful job. We are sitting where we are because of our starting pitching. They set the tone.”

— Though left fielder Yasmany Tomas was given the day off on Sunday, it had nothing to do with his production at the plate.

In his past 11 games, Tomas is hitting .310 with four doubles, four home runs and 15 RBI; not bad considering his slow start in the spring.

“He has been a very productive hitter and we need him to continue to be a very productive hitter,” Lovullo said. “He sits in a part of the lineup where we’re expecting him to be an impact run-producer and he’s welcomed that challenge. He’s taken on that challenge to help this team and continue to drive in big runs and get big hits.”

— Almost two weeks removed from successful surgery to remove his prostate, bench coach Ron Gardenhire is doing well back in his home state of Minnesota, according to Lovullo. Gardenhire was diagnosed with prostate cancer just before the start of spring training.

“He’s watching all of our games, he’s watching all the triple-A games, he was watching the Colorado/Washington game and jumped in on our advance-call, so he’s a part of this team even though he’s far away,” Lovullo said. “He’s feeling very good and relaxing, eating, just gaining some strength. We’re going to allow him all the time that he needs and when it’s his decision to come back that’s when he steps back in the dugout.”

In Gardenhire’s absence, Triple-A manager Jerry Narron is assuming the bench coach role.

— On the trip Washington, D.C., the 16-win D-backs had some fun with a red-white-and-blue all-American inspired theme to their chose of clothing on the plane.

The idea was hatched by a handful of players.

“I love dress-up days; I’m not going to lie. I love that stuff,” said Lovullo, who is a big fan of Halloween. “It’s a great team-building experience for all of us and on top of that you get to see a little bit of personality. I can’t wait to see some of the outfits.”

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