Searching For Saves: Archie Bradley, Closer Of The Future?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

After failing to earn a spot in the rotation, Archie Bradley will open the year as part of Arizona’s bullpen.  Obviously that eliminates his potential value, in the short-term, though the team doesn’t have a long-term solution for the closer role.  Could Bradley, a former top prospect, be primed for that role?

Control and repertoire have been the biggest questions facing him, though if you believe the quotes the latter is no longer an issue.  Here’s what Bradley had to say recently, courtesy of Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (click here for the article):

 “But I’m so far ahead of where I was even at the beginning of this camp. I came in wanting to lock down a third pitch and although they aren’t set in stone now, I’ve got four pitches now. I’ve got the changeup down, I’m throwing it for strikes. I’m throwing a cutter/slider now, whatever you want to call it. I feel like I’m in the best shape pitching-wise that I’ve been in in my life probably.”

Last season Bradley primarily threw his fourseam fastball/sinker (69.21%) and his curveball (23.68%), rarely mixing in a changeup (7.11%).  The slider would be a new pitch, and it will be interesting to see if he continues to utilize all four pitches in a bullpen role.  Regardless, if he truly has developed a third and fourth pitch he would significantly improve his potential outlook.

His fastball averaged over 93 mph last season and he has an ability to generate swings and misses (though his 8.2% SwStr% doesn’t back up his 9.08 K/9 in the Majors last season).  He does own a career minor league K/9 of 9.6, including a 9.4 at Triple-A.  The development of his repertoire would help him maintain that type of mark in the Majors, and the potential is there to carry an 8.0 K/9 or higher as a starter (and even more out of the bullpen).

The big question has been his control, and 4 BB over 16.2 IP this spring indicates an improvement (4.7 BB/9 over his minor league career).  Even in his quote he notes that he’s getting ahead of hitters, which is obviously going to be key.

It’s a promising development and one that could lead to success for him as a starter.  It’s a role he’s ready to embrace, as per Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (click here for the article):

“With the way I’m throwing the baseball right now, the way I feel, the way the ball is coming out, I’m comfortable in any role, in any capacity,” Bradley said. “Just put me on this team.”

It will be interesting to watch, but with his growth and the ceiling he’s possessed it’s possible that he finds a home in the bullpen and never relinquishes it.  Keep a close eye on the situation, especially for those in long-term keeper/dynasty leagues always on the hunt for closer options.  It’s possible a new one emerges in Arizona.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com, Arizona Republic

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Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catcher03/20/1702/28/17
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Shortstop02/13/1703/15/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
03/19/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17
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Relief Pitcher01/02/17--

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