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Should the Diamondbacks be worried about Archie Bradley’s health?

By Charles Rahrig V
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Arizona Diamondbacks top pitching prospect Archie Bradley has been recently reinstated off the disabled list and sent to Triple-A Reno. Should the team be worried about his health?


The Arizona Diamondbacks have several young talented pitchers in the pipeline, and Archie Bradley is one of those pitchers. The Diamondbacks got to have an up-close look at Bradley this season, as he began the year as the team’s No. 5 starter.

Right away, Bradley began showing off his impressive pitching ability as he went 2-0 in four starts with a 1.80 ERA. Only allowing nine hits and four earned runs over his first four starts, Bradley looked the future phenom of the team that the the Diamondbacks expected him to be when they took him seventh overall in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft.

Then, the first wave of bad luck struck, as Bradley was drilled by in the face off a line drive by Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Showing off impressive toughness, Bradley would be back just a few weeks later on May 16th, for his first start since the terrifying injury.

However, Bradley was not the same young phenom that he was in his first four starts of the season when he came back. Instead, in four starts, Bradley got knocked around and struggled to get through five innings each start. He only ended up making it to five innings in two of those starts, and this time in four games, Bradley went 0-3 with a 10.91 ERA.

His last start, came on June 1 against the Atlanta Braves, where he would go five innings while giving up eight hits, five runs and walking three batters. Just three days later, Bradley would be shut down for shoulder tendinitis, the next in his season nightmare of obstacles.

Bradley, competitive as ever, has been rehabbing and working on coming back to the team this season. On Monday, the Diamondbacks brought Bradley back off the disabled list and optioned him Triple-A Reno. It’s not clear when he is going to return, but with a lot of young pitchers currently in the Snakes’ rotation, the team is going to need more arms to throw in once innings limits come into play for some pitchers.

After September, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bradley to take the mound for the Diamondbacks again in 2015. With the season he has had, it would be nice to see Bradley come back on a high note and put together a few good starts before the campaign ends. That would give Bradley something to build on heading into next year, and it would give something for the fans to be excited about.

While the thought of Bradley’s return is certainly something to get excited about, it also raises the question of whether or not the team should be worried about Bradley’s health. Getting drilled by a line drive is one thing, and is certainly a freak accident, but shoulder tendinitis and arm injuries as a pitcher is certainly something not to take lightly, a la Brandon Webb.

So, as Bradley’s career continues to move forward, should the Diamondbacks be concerned with his health?

Tom Lynch

It was a flexor tendon in 2014. It was tendinitis in 2015. So yes, I think there should level of concern as whether or not he can stay healthy for an entire season. Both injuries cost him significant time in each season. Let’s not forget that it was his pitching arm that was affected twice. Is the next step in 2016 surgery?

I think we can assume Bradley will be in the rotation next year. However, if I were the D-backs I wouldn’t be counting on him for 30 starts. His arm hasn’t had enough innings to be stretched out that far and you know the team will be extra cautious in its approach. There will be questions about his health until he can avoid injury for an entire campaign. We may not see Archie Bradley as a staff ace until 2017.

Tyler Dunn

Any time a young pitcher has shoulder problems, specifically one who throws as hard as Archie Bradley does, there’s cause for concern. But he’s still only 23.

His pedigree alone should keep his name in rotation talks, and his stuff — provided he comes back healthy next spring — should carry him the rest of the way.

I agree, though, Bradley will need to locate his pitches better next season or the big right-hander could fall behind fellow youngsters Aaron Blair and Braden Shipley.

Charles Jackson

Archie Bradley is following the path of another big league pitcher: Matt Harvey. Harvey was drafted in the same #7 slot as Bradley, but one year earlier. He was must faster to the Majors, which seems to be par for the course when you compare the two organizational farm systems, but he did have a similar statistical response to being promoted as Bradley.

Both experienced increase walk rates, ERA, and FIP, as well as lower K-rates in each higher level, with their worst numbers being their first year in the Majors (with one exception – Harvey increased his K-rate upon arrival to the Show to his high-A rate, while having worse numbers in the other categories). Add in the injury concerns for Harvey (mostly weight related in the minors) and you have a hard throwing, quality stuff guy who has minor injury concerns and control problems. People had anointed Harvey as the closer of the future.

Harvey put it together in year two, even going through Tommy John surgery, and is one of the best in the business now. Bradley will get that chance. His injury history is not worrisome, but his control is the issue. In the end, if he can’t get his control under wraps, then his injury status will only hurt the Reno Aces in the future. So, until he can prove himself as a Major League pitcher, they don’t need to worry about him getting injured any more than any other prospect.

Conclusion

Archie Bradley is tougher than a two-dollar steak, and wants nothing more than to be the unequivocal leader of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitching rotation. He’s had his issues with injuries, and has battled back each time. He has yet to get a real season under his belt.

It’s likely that next season, if Bradley is in the rotation, he will have innings limit as he continues to stretch out his arm. It’s important to note that he just turned 23 and is still very young. If he can just get a good amount of work and innings in next year, he can focus on taking the next step in 2017 and beyond.

Archie Bradley is a pitcher with immense talent, and he’s on the right path. He just needs to get out on the mound and show what he can do in a full season.

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