Archie Bradley 3.0
The Beard moved to the bullpen and quickly became The Man for Lovullo in the 2017 season. He could keep a lead intact, he could keep close games close, and he could finish ’em if need be. Bradley was so tremendous so quickly out of the bullpen that it allowed little room for re-evaluation. It seemed obvious: Bradley’s move to the pen was a win.
Of course, who actually made the call to move Bradley to the pen is likely lost to folklore. I have a guess as to why – but I don’t know whose call it was. It was surely easier for Hazen and Lovullo to consider the move since they came in with fresh perspectives, unencumbered by the tremendous promise of Bradleys 1.0 and 2.0. It was easier for them to realize that time as a sunk cost.
Ditching his changeup, Bradley contented himself with becoming a two-pitch shutdown artist. He shined in his first season with a 1.73 ERA in 63 appearances. His era jumps to 2.61 by FIP and 3.21 by xFIP. The low ERA appears driven in part by a fortuitous 7.4% HR/FB rate.
Whereas Bradley 2.0 wasn’t as bad of a starter as he seemed, Bradley 3.0, as well, wasn’t quite the otherworldly bullpen stopper he seemed in 2017. Last season his HR/FB ratio ballooned back to 13.8% – and so did his ERA, up to 3.64 ERA (3.71 FIP, 3.57 xFIP). Still, Bradley 3.0 is a reliable late-inning high-leverage bullpen arm, and probably the most popular player on the current Diamondbacks roster.