D-backs manager Chip Hale: Still believe Archie Bradley can be ‘front-line’ starter
Oct 6, 2015, 10:06 PM | Updated: Oct 7, 2015, 4:33 pm
The 2015 season has officially come to a close for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The season itself was an improvement upon the season before, when the D-backs were saddled with the worst record in Major League Baseball. However, finishing four games below .500, while a step in the right direction, still has the D-backs on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture.
This offseason, manager Chip Hale and company have plenty of work to do in order to push the D-backs back into postseason contention following a playoff draught that now extends to four years. From deciding what to do with a crowded infield and outfield, to finding a new pitching coach, to being more consistent across the board, Hale knows this autumn won’t be one for much rest and relaxation.
Hale joined Burns & Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday to discuss the team’s offseason checklist, as well as weigh in on the status of pitcher Archie Bradley, whose hopeful presence in the Arizona starting rotation next season could mean the difference between a breakthrough or more disappointment.
Bradley last appeared on the mound in a major league game on June 1, when the then-22-year-old right-hander pitched five innings, scattering eight hits and five earned runs in a loss to the Atlanta Braves. The game was a microcosm of the player Bradley had become in the aftermath of getting struck in the face by a line drive from the bat of Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez on April 28; a frightening moment that placed Bradley on the 15-day disabled list.
Prior to the incident, Bradley posted a 2-0 record with a 1.80 ERA in four starts, showing many why he was considered one of the D-backs’ top prospects entering the season. In his appearances that followed, however, Bradley had notably regressed, going 0-3 with a 10.91 ERA in his final four starts before returning to the 15-day DL with shoulder tendinitis and later being optioned to Triple-A Reno.
Though it was a roller coaster first season in the bigs for Bradley, Hale still believes his prized prospect can be an integral part of the rotation moving forward despite carrying regret for the way he felt he handled Bradley’s return to the mound following the injury.
“I can’t speak for anybody else, but I really kicked myself when we decided not to let him pitch and get him back up to 120 pitches down in the minor leagues, whether it was even in A-ball, just so he felt good about himself. I think even coming back that first game at Philly, he was not the same guy at all.”
Yet, what Hale has seen of late seems to suggest Bradley will be a big part of the team’s considerations come next year.
“I just saw him pitch [Monday] in instructional league, and the velocity was good, the pitches were good, so yeah I do [think he can be a front-line starter]. I think that’s part of it. I think that’s another guy that we haven’t talked much about of late because he hasn’t been around, but he has the pitches. He has the fastball, the breaking ball and the changeup that we ask for and he has a repeatable delivery right now, so that’s one of the big projects we’ll have coming in January.
“Mentally and physically, I think a little bit of the getting hit in the face really hurt him. I think we may have made a mistake of not letting him go out and pitch a few more games before he pitched back in a major league game. That’s something we learn from, and we need to get him back into the front-line status that he should be in.”