The D-backs bullpen looks like a really good bullpen — it let up just two earned runs (shame on you, Evan Marshall!) through the first five games before allowing four more yesterday. And that looks super fortunate, because the bullpen has already had to contribute 24.2 innings in six — that’s more than 4 innings per game.
The bright spot in the rotation, of course, was Archie Bradley, who managed to finally roll the big boulder up the hill and pitch six full innings (all it took was 112 pitches!). With six whiffs and just one hit allowed, the stat line looks excellent — or, maybe we should say, “very good” when factoring in his four walks.
Bradley did it without the heat that helped put him on the map in the first place. In the Futures Game in 2013, Bradley averaged 96.65 mph on his fastball per Brooks Baseball, and was just a hair under 95 mph in his Arizona Fall League time just six months ago. In a March 21 start this spring, he was “down” to 94.58 mph on the fastball, and so it was a little surprising to see him average 93.11 mph on Saturday.
What Bradley lost in velocity, he made up in quantity — he threw 85 fastballs on Saturday, topping out at 95.1 mph. 17 were fouled off, and just 9 were hit into play (5 of which were ground balls). So cool, man. On some level, that kind of performance is very similar to what we saw from Rubby De La Rosa last time out, but the results couldn’t have been more different. Maybe this is just more grist for the mill that these things have a breaking point; once you demonstrate that you can throw a strike if you want to, hitters have to approach you differently.
Bradley added just 2 changeups and relying on 25 power curveballs to help keep hitters off balance. As for the changeup — I’m even more excited there, although I’d need a much longer format to explain why. Suffice it to say, it looked good. The curve looked great — it was called a ball just 40% of the time, and all three times a hitter made contact, it was hit on the ground. As best I can tell, he hung zero of them.
The guy was just rude to Clayton Kershaw all game. I mean, there’s the whole Bradley getting a hit off of Clayton Kershaw before allowing a hit in the majors. And then there’s doing this to Kershaw with the bender:
This is pretty fun, right?
We thought so, which is why we did two podcast episodes in the last week. Do check out our last one, recorded before Sunday’s game. Baseball!
Also, a big thanks to OJ Carrasco for hanging out on Twitter on Friday night using the new site account, @InsidetheZona. So much fun!
- It’s a subscription piece and I want to respect that, but Matthew Trueblood posted an article today on how the D-backs have suddenly started making highly respectable decisions, and I want to respect that, too. It was a sudden, dramatic change — kicked off by the trade of Trevor Cahill, (supposedly) having Jake Lamb and Nick Ahmed start over Yasmany Tomas and Aaron Hill, installing Bradley in the rotation… so good. We were in deep here, and haven’t posted a single, macro look at that whole picture (although you were treated to a version of that if you listen to The Pool Shot), but this really does that job. I’d also refer you to the header of last week’s roundup. And on the Trueblood channel, I’d also recommend his piece about what the Carlos Quentin DFA tells us about the sport — keep that in mind next time you’re weighing the worth of players like Mark Trumbo. Just sayin’.
- Not completely sure what a “fireman” is in bullpen terms, but as Zach Buchanan writes, Andrew Chafin has become one, and he’s embracing that role. I like him as a matchups guy, but Jeff was right — he’s here because he can go multiple innings. And it may be a long time before any D-backs reliever is used for matchups. Even if the pen was fresh on a particular day, you just have to assume that multiple relievers will be required to pitch every day. Even with an 8-man bullpen (hello, A.J. Schugel!), it’s hard to see any reliever — other than maybe Addison Reed — go three games without pitching. In fact, we may see Reed pitch tonight regardless of the score.
- Buchanan posed another issue earlier in the week: no current D-backs starter has ever thrown 200 innings in a season. The current situation faced by the D-backs, in which a starter has thrown as many as six innings just once, is approaching emergency status — but Buchanan makes the point that if they were all throwing 7 innings or so per start, the D-backs might have another kind of urgent situation late in the season, with their whole staff simultaneously reaching what might be a hard innings threshold. The first problem isn’t solving the second problem, however; “innings” is a convenient metric for the more important number: total pitches. And while D-backs starters have been chased pretty early, it’s not like throwing 112 pitches in six innings is less taxing than throwing 90 in seven. In other words: the team might have both problems this year.
- More Buchanan: David Hernandez and Patrick Corbin are on the last road to recovery, and are now throwing sliders as part of their rehab. This is going to be even more fun, right? I wrote in the fall that the extent to which Corbin throws his slider could be the key to how successful he is once he’s back — there’s context from other Tommy John returnees, and Corbin threw an awful lot of sliders when he was going good. More recently, Jeff took a look at what to expect when Corbin returns.
- We’re less than two months away from the Rule 4 draft, for which the D-backs have the top selection — and a bonus pool of $8.16 million. One possibility at that pick? Brendan Rogers, who was the subject of a question answered by Baseball America today. Go check that out.
- Far be it for me to treat what is essentially a different roundup in this roundup, but go check out Xipoo’s work with Week 1 takeaways — lots of great nuggets in there.
- Also at Snake Pit, Jim McLennan checked in on the incredibly drawn out pace of Jeremy Hellickson on the mound.
- At BP Boston, I wrote about what to expect out of Wade Miley this year, if you hate yourself a little bit and want to vent that self-hate…
- Hey, if you kinda like writing and kinda like baseball and kinda like to read the kinds of stuff we do here — why not write for Beyond the Box Score? I recommend that highly, and you’ll be shocked by how much you can learn in a short time — and have fun doing it.
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