Archie Bradey is clearly very excited to have earned the closer role for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season.
After manager Torey Lovullo told him he had the spot, Bradley tweeted “CLOSING TIME.”
After watching other relievers get the closer call after his dominant 2017 campaign, it’s Bradley’s turn to pitch the D-backs to a win.
“I now know that he feels like this is his opportunity and his chance, and I don’t think that he wants to give this up,” Lovullo said during a Zoom call with media on Saturday.
Bradley downplayed that excitement during an appearance on Arizona’s Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Wednesday.
“The title’s great, but I’ve always tried to define myself outside a role or a title,” Bradley said. “I’m going to give you the cliche answer, but whatever that role is, especially now in these 60 games, I’m just ready to play and contribute the best way I can.”
He mentioned St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Andrew Miller as a pitcher he would like to emulate.
Miller, a two-time All-Star, has served different roles in the back end of the bullpen and has shown the ability to pitch more than one inning.
“In my mind, I look at what Andrew Miller’s done and I would like to do something like him,” Bradley said. “A guy that can close but can also throw two or three innings, and you can move him in and out of the ninth.”
In 2015, when Miller was with the New York Yankees, he had 36 saves but finished 53 games and appeared in 60 total. The Yankees were 49-11 when he pitched.
Over 2016 and 2017 with the Yankees and Cleveland Indians, Miller had a 1.45 ERA in 127 games, picking up 14 saves and finishing 27 games.
The teams were 104-23 in games he pitched in over those two years.
“I think with the way the game has changed, there is a significance now in other areas that help the ‘pen,” Bradley said. “It’s not so much about saves and the ninth inning, it’s about quality, high-leverage innings consistently throughout the year.
It’s a different mindset than pitching in important moments in the seventh inning compared to the ninth, Bradley said. There’s a different intensity knowing there is no next inning for the team to rectify any mistakes the pitcher might make.
“Those last three outs, only having a chance to quote-unquote win or lose the game in those situations you pitch in, it’s a different mentality,” Bradley said. “You have to be able to have a short memory, you have to not get your feelings hurt when you give up homers and lose games.”
After taking the closer role at the end of July last season, Bradley had 18 saves and just one blown save, posting a 2.10 ERA in 25.2 innings.
That was in a span of 54 games over 62 days.
Arizona is hoping he can be similarly consistent in this 60-game season.