Archie Bradley discusses role for 2019 season at D-backs Fan Fest
Whether it’s his trademark beard or 100 mph fastball, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley is a fan favorite.
The former first-round pick joined 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station during D-backs Fan Fest to discuss his offseason and the upcoming 2019 season.
“The start of the season is exciting,” Bradley said. “This is my job and I’m excited to start my job again.”
Bradley has been in the news lately, but not just for baseball reasons.
The 26-year-old had his golf bag stolen during the Waste Management Phoenix Open Pro-Am, but it was eventually returned to him.
He also tweeted “Closing time.” and “Start me up.” this offseason, creating speculation if the right-hander is hinting at what role he wants to pitch in this year or if he is just a Semisonic and The Rolling Stones fan.
“You guys fell right into it,” Bradley said jokingly.
“It’s fun. I had to apologize to Torey because he was texting me ‘Hey man, enough. I’m getting all these questions every day.’ I literally was texting all my boys back home saying ‘Hey, you want to have some fun? Watch my Instagram in the next couple days. Watch the way people respond. The media blows up. It’s just going to be so funny.'”
It’s been a somber offseason for D-backs fans.
“We keep joking around like we’re waiting for the guys to show up,” Bradley said.
“We are the guys now: Lamb, Peralta, Godley, Chafin. We are the face of this team. We are the people that are going to determine if we win or lose this year. I think we’re all kind of realizing that.
“The Goldy era is done and we are moving passed that. We have to find a new identity. We have to find a new way to win and we have to find a new way to play together.”
But amidst all the offseason departures, including former closer Brad Boxberger, the D-backs were able to add former AL relief pitcher of the year and World Series champion Greg Holland to the back of the bullpen.
Back in November, Torey Lovullo said Bradley would be the closer if there was a gun to the manager’s head, but Lovullo has yet to name an Opening Day closer.
This leaves Bradley’s role for this upcoming season up in the air, as the right-hander has been used primarily as a setup man the last two seasons.
“I’m not saying I don’t want (to be the closer) or I’m scared of it,” Bradley said.
“I think you’ve seen the way the game has kind of transformed in a way and you can look at a lot of situations and sometimes the save isn’t the toughest part of the game. It’s not the transition that gets you to that point. It’s kind of those in between innings. I’m really hoping from a pay scale, I can really get adjusted for doing what I’ve been doing and not having saves.”
In 2017, Bradley had a 1.73 ERA with 79 strikeouts and a 1.04 WHIP in 73 innings pitched. He even got a vote for NL MVP.
Bradley’s ERA rose to 3.64 in 2018, but the right-hander was still able to strikeout 75 batters and have a 1.14 WHIP in 71.2 innings pitched that led to 34 holds (tied for most in the MLB).
“I hate to bring it up because it’s last year, but my nail is completely healthy this year,” Bradley said. “I got 56 fake nails last year or something like that. It’s a story in the past. I have a healthy nail.”
Last month, Bradley agreed to a one-year deal with the team in order to avoid arbitration.
“Why not be the guy to change the game a little bit?” Bradley said.
“I already made a little more in arbitration, bumped the system up a little bit. Start to recognize that sometimes that seventh through eighth inning, the middle of that stretch allows that closer to face the bottom part of the lineup instead of the heart of it. You’re seeing it more and more. Look at the usage.
“I’m not taking anything away from closing. Hand me the ball, I’ll save every game you want me to. I just think there’s so much more in getting to those three outs. That’s the key: getting to those three outs.
“Look at what I’ve done the last few years. I’m not bragging on me, but I know every night I’m coming in and facing the heart of the lineup.
“That’s what Torey has told me. Every night out. Not one night out am I going to come in and face (the bottom of the order). I will every now and then but for the most part I’m coming in to a one to two-run game with a chance to either continue it or lose it and I’m facing the three, four best hitters they have every night and most of the time that wasn’t in the ninth inning.
“That’s my only thing about closing that takes away from what I do: the one inning stint. I understand being available here every night, but only throwing one inning takes away from some of my versatility and what I can bring to the table. In terms of winning and contributing, I’ve learned that is equally as important to us winning that game.”
All D-backs pitchers are set to report to spring training on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
“Everything I am trying to do is to win,” Bradley said.
“It may not necessarily be as a closer or starter. I may not be getting wins or saves. I’m kind of doing the in-between thing. I realize the value of what I can do and what I can bring. As I’ve gotten older, I’m understanding where I stand as a voice in the club house and in this community.”