D-backs not panicking over Archie Bradley’s rocky post-All-Star break rut

Aug 14, 2018, 3:17 PM | Updated: 4:39 pm
Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Archie Bradley works against Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story in ...
Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Archie Bradley works against Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story in the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 10, 2018, in Denver. The Diamondbacks won 5-3. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Archie Bradley has one of the most difficult jobs in Major League Baseball. The Arizona Diamondbacks reliever faces the best of opponents’ lineups in the most high-pressure situations, a unique role manager Torey Lovullo has carved out this season for his super setup man.

But having thrived in his first year as a reliever last season and carried a lot of that success through 2018, the right-hander has officially hit the worst rough patch of his career as a reliever.

Bradley has struggled in 10 games since the All-Star break, starting with a July 20 outing against the Colorado Rockies in which he allowed six earned runs in a single inning.

That was the first of three losses Bradley has taken in the last 10 games. He’s allowed runs to score in three of those appearances, and his ERA has ballooned from 1.97 before the break to 3.51 since. He’s allowed 12 earned runs in 10.2 frames (10.97 ERA) in that span, more than his 10 earned runs allowed in 47 appearances before the break.

Lovullo, however, isn’t ready to bail on Bradley.

“He’s earned my trust because of what he’s done, and I’m not going to base it over the past five or six games,” the manager said Tuesday while joining Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo. “I’m not going to pull things back from him just because of things that have happened as of late.

“Now, if it’s a trending, it’s a habit, it’s been happening a month, two, then we’ll have a different conversation. For right now, I know that Archie is exactly what we want on the mound late in games.”

The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta Tuesday that Bradley suffered from a cracked fingernail that kept him from using his curveball that plays well off his four-seam and two-seam fastballs. Though that finger issue has healed, Bradley has remained less willing to use his curveball of late.

To this point, Bradley’s ERA is double the 1.73 figure he put up in 63 appearances a year ago, and that’s partially due to Lovullo putting him in more high-pressure situations.

But the manager also knows that opponents are learning how to beat Bradley’s fastball-heavy pitching style. The right-hander is in the midst of a lesson in evolving to remain ahead of the competition and will be using adjustments in location and pitch-sequencing to find a solution to his recent struggles.

“Archie spoiled us last year,” Lovullo said. “Teams study, they pay attention. If you think you’re going to just waltz through this and do the exact same thing year after year after year, you got another thing coming. You’ve got to make adjustments, and that’s where Archie is this year.”

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