Is it too much to say the future of the Arizona Diamondbacks rests on Archie Bradley? It’s a tall statement, but one that is true.
A couple years ago, the Diamondbacks had a surplus of pitching talent in their minor league systems. This gold mine consisted of players like Trevor Bauer, Jerrod Parker, Tyler Skaggs, and of course Archie Bradley. One by one, they were traded. First Parker, then Bauer, and finally Skaggs. But never Bradley. He was the “cream of the crop.” The untouchable one.
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Talk about putting pressure on the kid. So fans waited…..and waited…..and waited to see this kid finally make the team. Well 2015 was his year. His minor injuries in 2014 behind him, the young Oklahoman broke into baseball with a bang. His first three starts brought forth a hope that has evaded the Diamondbacks fans for years: a true shut-down ace.
Against the division rivals Dodgers and Giants he beat Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner, allowing only two runs through 12.2 innings. He came out against the Rangers in his next start and stifled their lineup for 6.1 innings of one-run ball. Then in the form of a 115 mph line drive, disaster struck.
His first four starts: 2-0, 1.80 ERA, .133 AVG, 14 SO, 11 BB
It was the second inning of his fourth MLB start. With slugger Carlos Gonzalez at the plate, Bradley delivered one of his trademark curveballs and CarGo smashed it right back into Bradley’s face. Bradley lay there motionless for a while before leaving on a stretcher. He gave the crowd a thumbs-up and later that night it was revealed he had suffered no more than sinus damage and a beautiful looking bruise. Needless to say, he went on the DL. But was was surprising was that he only missed 18 days. Hold onto that.
On May 16, Bradley was back and facing a struggling Phillies team. Everything seemed in line for him to continue his success. Instead he was schallacked for four runs in two innings of work with sever command issues. Then the train went off the rails and through his next three starts he couldn’t get past the fifth inning and allowed four or more runs in each start. Something wasn’t right. After dominating some of the best teams in baseball Bradley was not struggling against the games’ worst.
Post Injury: 0-3, 11.25 ERA, 9 SO, 11 BB
So the Diamondbacks put him on the DL with ‘shoulder tendinitis.’ The underlying assumption is that Bradley never fully recovered mentally from suffering a potentially life-threatening injury. So he was placed on the DL to take a break to recover both physically and mentally. After a short rest, Archie returned to throwing on Thursday in an extended Spring Training game and pitched a couple of innings. He’s slated for a couple more rehab starts and then he will return to the rotation.
The Diamondbacks need Bradley to be the pitcher he was at the beginning of the year. Pitching has been the achilles heel of the Diamondbacks, raking 24th in baseball and the starting rotation has been in turmoil all season, an image of inconsistency. Here’s what’s key: this team is close to being a contender and Bradley is what can push them over the edge.
What the future holds for the Diamondbacks 100 percent depends on the success of Archie Bradley. His healthy return will take this team from being a below .500 team to one that has the capability of making a Wild Card run.
Before that happens, Archie Bradley must be the pitcher that had no fear, went out every fifth day and gave you ace material. Without that, well the Diamondbacks may be in a pickle.