Not that his assignment Thursday against the Chicago Cubs was critical, this more than about keeping Arizona right-hander Archie Bradley on life-support. Still in the mix for the fifth, and last spot in the Diamondbacks’ 2016 rotation, Bradley was in a critical spot, and needed a solid effort.
In competition with lefty Robbie Ray, a power, left-hander pitcher, and righties Zach Goldley and Tyler Wagner, Bradley reached the precipice. Sporting a 4.70 ERA going into his Thursday assignment against the Cubs in Sloan Park, Bradley had to be near perfect in order to retain his status among contenders.
As things turned out, the 23-year-old out of Muskogee, Okla. was less than stellar. Allowing five, first inning runs, including four extra-base hits, Bradley is now walking a fine tight-rope between hanging on a roster spot when the Diamondbacks’ break camp, or starting the season with AAA Reno.
In either case, his start against the Cubs Thursday was important. If Bradley begins the season in the minors, there is no guarantee he will continue or end there. Manager Chip Hale, and other decision-makers, continually say a baseball season is not constructed with 25 players, but a roster of 40 or more. That takes into consideration injuries, demotions, and poor performance. If Bradley does start the season in Reno, he could be back in Chase Field at any time.
“Whether he starts in the major leagues or not, this is an important start (for Bradley),” said Hale before Thursday’s game. “He needs to prepare whether he’s here or not.”
Against the Cubs, Bradley lasted only into the third inning, and exited with a rather disastrous afternoon. While the Diamondbacks dropped a 15-4 decision to the Chicago Cubs before another sell-out crowd in Sloan Park, the day for Bradley was equally unadventurous. The defeat snapped an eight-game, Arizona winning streak, and dropped the Diamondbacks to a spring mark of 12-4-1.
If this was one of Bradley’s final auditions for the fifth rotation spot, he did not enamor himself before decision-makers. Noting “I felt great in the bullpen,” Bradley had no explanation, when the game began, why the wheels fell off. In 2.3 innings, Bradley allowed five hits, six runs, walked three and fanned three. In the end, he may have made the decision for the final rotation spot easier. As a result of what happened at Sloan Park, it’s possible this may have been one of Bradley’s last chances to make an impression.
“I left too many over the plate, and they hit it good,” was Bradley’s observation on the day. “I felt good and ready to go. They just hit it. I still feel confident and ready to bounce back.”
At the end of his meeting with reporters, Bradley may have sounded his own kiss of death. When he said, “I just didn’t have it, simple as that,” the death knell for his rotation chance may have sounded.
For his four starts this spring, Bradley is 2-1 but has a 9.00 ERA. If there is a high-profile competition between Bradley and his rivals, Ray, for his three starts, has a 1.86 ERA and allowed seven hits in in 9/2 innings. In his four starts this spring, Bradley has surrendered 15 hits and 10 earned runs. Ray makes his fourth start of the spring Friday in a AAA game on the Salt River campus.
MORE FROM MESA
Rubby De La Rosa’s normal turn was Thursday. Yet, the organization held out the right-hander against the Cubs in Mesa. Instead, De La Rosa pitched in a “B” game at Salt River against Oakland.
The reason was clear. De La Rosa is slated to open a four-game series against the Cubs on April 7 in Chase Field. That would be three weeks from pitching against the Cubs Thursday in Sloan Park. Instead of exposing De La Rosa to a team he will face in a short period of time, and during the regular season, he was held out of the game in Mesa.
A LOOK AT THE M*A*S*H UNIT
On the medical front, there is some encouraging news, and then some hopeful news. Prior to Thursday’s game with the Cubs in Sloan Park, manager Chip Hale indicated Yasmany Tomas is nearly ready to go full-time.
Sidelined for the last week with swelling and inflammation to his left knee, Tomas will likely be back in the line-up this weekend. Hale indicated the Cuban-born outfielder could be ready for pinch-hitting duties until weekend games.
Elsewhere, A. J. Pollock could go by early next week. Out with a sore right elbow, Pollock has begun hitting in the cage. Hale pointed out his return to the line-up is based on health concerns and not timing. By the time Pollock returns to centerfield, the Diamondbacks have just under two weeks remaining in spring training.
Catcher Chris Herrmann, hitting .358 this spring, is slow to recover from hip discomfort. Out until next week, Hermann was envisioned as a potential outfielder. Because of his hip injury, that option has been scratched and Herrmann, Hale pointed out, needs innings behind the plate.
With Herrmann unavailable, that leaves Welington Castillo, Tuffy Gosewisch and Brett Hayes as the only catchers remaining in the major league camp. For the Diamondbacks to make a decision whether to two or three catchers, Herrmann needs to play, Hale said.
For Friday, the Diamondbacks are back at Salt River. Here, they entertain the Dodgers at 1:10. Right-hander Zach Godley faces righty Brandon Beachy. Behind Godley, look for lefty Andrew Chafin, right-hander Randall Delgado and righty Silvino Bracho.
On Saturday, the Diamondbacks split their squad. At Salt River (1:10 p.m.), Arizona takes on the Texas Rangers with righty Zach Greinke on the mound. The other half faces the Giants at Scottsdale and righty Tyler Wagner gets the start.