The starting rotation for the Arizona Diamondbacks is far from set, and Archie Bradley is certainly in that mix.
If there is one characteristic leftover from the 2016 starting rotation of the Arizona Diamondbacks, this can be under-achieving.
Only right-hander Zack Greinke managed to gain a winning record, and that was only at 13-7. For a club which went 69-93, the Diamondbacks finished just one game out of the National League West Division basement. They also compiled the third-worst home record of any club last season in major league baseball. That reality cost general manager Dave Stewart and field manager Chip Hale their jobs.
Among those who were principal starters, the closest, aside from Greinke, to break even on the season was right-hander Archie Bradley. Finishing with an 8-9 mark, Bradley’s high ERA of 5.02 might be considered out of the realm of a legitimate starter, and his future for 2017 is to be determined.
Still, Bradley remains in the conversation for a spot among the five starters manager Torey Lovullo will name by opening day. Others, including lefties Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray and Anthony Banda remain in the mix as does righties Shelby Miller, newly-acquired Taijuan Walker and Braden Shipley.
All of which could move Bradley ahead of most. Save for Walker, whom the Diamondbacks obtained from the Mariners and believe has a future in Sedona Red, Miller, Shipley, Corbin and Banda stand in Bradley’s path.
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Here at the advent of spring training, a safe bet would have Grienke and Ray as starters. The fact the Diamondbacks acquired Walker could be enough to settle the native of Yucaipa, Calif. into the rotation. That would leave two spots open, and Bradley would likely be considered as a legitimate candidate.
Just on the strength of his finish of last season, Bradley could have a good argument.
From a no-decision against San Diego on Aug. 18, Bradley completed the season with a 4-1 mark and four no-decisions. In defeating the Padres on his last start of the season on Oct. 1 in Chase Field, Bradley recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts and stuck at least one batter in each of the seven innings he worked.
For his first, full season in the majors, Bradley turned in impressive numbers. After recalled from Triple-A Reno on May 29, Bradley ranked first among National League rookie pitchers in innings (131.1), second in strikeouts with 137, and third in strikeout per nine innings (9.39). Overall, Bradley placed eighth in NL strikeouts after his recall.
While numbers may tell one story, general manager Mike Hazen and Lovullo may ask different questions. Despite a strong push at the end of the season, Bradley is considered on the bubble for a spot in the rotation. The field in which he will compete is thought to be on relatively an equal level with Bradley’s abilities.
What Bradley needs to do is find ways to separate himself from a competitive field. The journey into the rotation begins shortly. On Monday, Feb. 13, pitchers and catchers report to the Diamondbacks’ Salt River spring training facility, and the first workouts are scheduled the following day.