Diamondbacks modifying Archie Bradley’s role out of bullpen
The 2019 version of Archie Bradley out of the bullpen is not the one the Arizona Diamondbacks are used to.
While Bradley’s ERA doubled in 2018 from 1.73 to 3.64, he was still doing a strong job of not allowing many baserunners.
Bradley’s WHIP only raised slightly from 1.04 to 1.14. He led the team in WHIP for 2017 and was second in the bullpen behind Yoshihisa Hirano last year.
This season, though, Bradley can’t seem to produce clean innings. He allowed at least two batters to reach base in each of his first nine outings before his 10th appearance on April 27 was his first 1-2-3 of the season.
This trend of allowing hitters on eventually caught up to him on Sunday when three hits and a walk to the Colorado Rockies resulted in four earned runs and his third loss of the season.
Bradley’s WHIP is now at a frightening 1.86, the worst on the team and the 17th-highest in all of baseball across the 196 qualified relievers.
For comparison, Bradley has thrown 14.0 innings, and last year, left-hander Jake Diekman had a similar 1.81 WHIP in 14.1 innings.
This development, unsurprisingly, is leading to D-backs manager Torey Lovullo adjusting Bradley’s role.
Torey Lovullo said he'll steer away from using Archie Bradley against the toughest part of the opposing lineup/in the eighth for the near future. He thinks the issue is fastball command.
— Zach Buchanan (@ZHBuchanan) May 6, 2019
More numbers back the decision up.
Per Fangraphs, Bradley’s pitch value on his fastball has dropped the past three seasons from 16.1 to 7.8 and all the way down to -5.5 this season in wFB (fastball runs above average).
Bradley’s overall command and percentage of pitches in the strike zone has also seen a decline. A 51.6% mark in 2017 had a slight dip to 47% last season, but that number is now far lower to 41.5% this season.
Despite the struggles of an important piece like Bradley, the D-backs’ bullpen has remained relatively afloat for the time being. Prior to Monday’s action, it ranks 21st in opposing batting average, 16th in WHIP, 13th in BABIP and 18th in ERA.
The D-backs kick off a three-game series in Tampa Bay against the Rays on Monday.