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Arizona Diamondbacks: Archie Bradley as starter or reliever by the numbers

By Joseph Jacquez
PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10: Archie Bradley #25 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field on September 10, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 10: Archie Bradley #25 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a pitch in the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field on September 10, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley might return to the starting rotation in 2018

Earlier today, my colleague Trisha Garcia wrote about possibly moving Patrick Corbin to the bullpen, which would open up a spot in the starting rotation.

As of late, a popular talking point surrounding the Arizona Diamondbacks has been the possibility of Archie Bradley returning to the starting rotation next season.

In regards to the rotation, the Diamondbacks certainly will have plenty to think about this winter. Right now, the current starting rotation of Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, Taijuan Walker and Patrick Corbin could make a strong case as the best rotation in franchise history.

But, only four members of this group started the season in the rotation. While nothing is ever guaranteed, Greinke, Ray, Walker and Corbin are basically locks to pitch in the rotation next year.

Right hander Shelby Miller began the season in the rotation, before seeing his season end abruptly. Miller is one of a large number of Diamondbacks’ players eligible for salary arbitration this offseason and questions about his role remain.

If Bradley returns to the rotation, he will have to take someone’s spot. While Corbin’s overall numbers do not jump out, he has pitched significantly better in the second half. The southpaw owns a 3.42 ERA after the All-Star Break, compared to a 4.71 ERA in the first half.

Miller also pitched well before being injured, and if he stays in Arizona, the only plausible spot for him is in the rotation.

So, I do not know where that leaves Bradley. Not only has he developed into one of, if not the best reliever in baseball, but he is a great clubhouse guy and seems to keep the bullpen together.

Here is a comparison of Archie as a starter versus as a reliever.

As a Starter

G: 34

W: 10

L: 12

ERA: 5.18

Innings: 177.1

Innings per start: 5.21

R: 107 (102 ER)

H: 190

SO/W: 1.87

BAA: .274

OBP: .358

OPS: .795

HR: 19

As a Reliever

G: 59

ERA: 1.20

Innings: 67.2

R: 9 (all earned)

H: 45

SO/W: 4.17

BAA: .185

OBP: .244

OPS: .512

HR: 3

Analysis

Bradley might want to be a starter, but the numbers certainly are not in his favor.

The right hander has embraced his role as the set-up man, and many fans rightfully so, are calling for him to be the closer. The Fernando Rodney experience has had its fair share of meltdowns that cannot happen. I cannot recall the last time Bradley had a meltdown.

The number that stands out to me is his strikeout-to-walk ratio. He is striking out far more batters because he is pitching with conviction. It also helps to have a harder fastball and a sharp breaking ball.

Bradley has been worth 4.0 wins to the Diamondbacks, and in his first full season as a reliever, Archie leads all relievers in ERA.

As a starter, Bradley struggled for a number of reasons. First, he did not throw his fastball as hard, and unless you have deception or an odd windup, most starters cannot get away with two quality pitches.

Whether it is a sinker, cutter or change up, Bradley has failed to develop a reliable third pitch. When you face opponents the second or third time through the order, it is hard to make a living with two pitches.

"Can a spot in the Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen save Patrick Corbin?"

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