A lot of Diamondbacks fans will be breaking out the #FreeBradley hashtag if Rubby De la Rosa falters tonight.
And they’re probably right to do so.
De la Rosa is by every measurable metric the worst starter in the Diamondbacks’ rotation. He has a 4.61 lifetime ERA, struggled in the spring and had a disaster of a 2016 debut. He allowed six earned runs in 4.1 innings last week against the Rockies.
While he’s still young at 27, De la Rosa is getting a little old to have a major upside. And the fact that he has a budding prospect waiting in the wings means he should be on a short leash. He has never had an ERA below 4.00 in any season since his rookie year in 2011, nor has he had an ERA+ above 90. There is still time to turn this around but De la Rosa is becoming more and more of a proven commodity by the subpar start.
If he falters again tonight, or the following start, or the next one, Archie Bradley could be back into the fold. Although he allowed ten runs in ten spring innings Bradley was solid in his Triple-A debut, yielding just two hits in six scoreless innings. The fact that he flashed potential in the majors early last season could also help his cause.
Fans tend to be impatient about situations like this, and they are probably justified in their sentiment. The Diamondbacks are a team that is built to win now. They may not be able to withstand a full season of Rubby De la Rosa’s high ERA. Bradley figures to be a big part of the team’s “evolution,” and his time in the bigs could come sooner rather than later.