On April 28, Archie Bradley was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez. For those of you who have seen the video, it wasn’t pretty. Afterward, Archie posted this photo on twitter. It’s not the most gruesome injury most of us have seen, but it was serious. He suffered the bruising and swelling you see, as well as a fracture in his sinus cavity.
Today, he makes his return from the 15-day DL to start against the Phillies in Philadelphia. The question on everyone’s mind is: Is the injury going to affect him going forward?
It’s a valid question, especially to those fantasy baseball managers wondering if they should start him today or wait to see. Archie has handled himself about as professionally as you could during his recovery. Many players have been hit in the face by batted balls (or in Giancarlo Stanton’s case, by pitched balls) and have lived to talk about it. For all you former or current ball players out there, chances are you or someone who have played with have suffered a similar injury. Point is, it’s not uncommon.
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Archie has made it clear that he does not intend to allow the injury to negatively impact his performance. As he states, “I think that’s the most encouraging thing for me is that when I got back out there on the mound facing hitters I wasn’t timid. I didn’t feel scared or feel like I had to protect myself any more than I normally do.”
Given that his injury could have been much more serious, with many lingering effects such as a concussion or a broken jaw or cheekbone, Archie is coming back from a best case scenario. So, tonight we will watch him and see how he reacts. Is he gun-shy? Does he modify his delivery and finish in an attempt to better protect himself? Or, does he deliver the pitch and set up to field like he did before the injury?
Apr 28, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley throws in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Before the injury, he won two of his first three Major League starts. All three were quality starts and, combined with his 1.1 IP before the injury, he had a cumulative ERA of 1.80 and WHIP of 1.00. Yes, his strikeout-to-walk ration wasn’t as good as anyone had hoped at 1.27 (14:11 K:BB), but he was limiting runs.
If he comes out and throws less than a quality start and gives up a few runs, it could be related to the injury, or he may be a little rusty, or his early season control issues might have caught up with him.
I see no reason to expect the injury and the short time away from the mound to impact his performance significantly. He’s still a 22-year old pitcher in his first season in the majors, he’ll be fine.