D-backs Solidify Pitching Roles

Arizona Sports News online

As the Diamondbacks continue their push to Opening Day, the club made some key decision within their pitching staff.

Merrill Kelly has been named to the starting rotation, joining Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver.

Last year, the 30-year-old rookie threw 183.1 innings, struck out 158 batters and posted a 4.42 ERA. The Arizona native had an up-and-down 2019, throwing a sub-3.00 ERA in June and September but also struggling in May, July and August, where his ERA ballooned to 5.7 or above. 

Kelly feels going through the good, and the bad, last year will help him in this abbreviated season.

“I think the biggest I can take from (last year) is recognizing when I’m going down that slide,” Kelly said. “Not being too hard on myself when I have one or two bad starts. It’s going to happen, and it’s how we react to that.” 

The roles were not defined in just the rotation either. Reliever Archie Bradley tweeted this on Saturday morning:

Manager Torey Lovullo confirmed Bradley’s role for 2020.

“He had a small sample size of (closing) last year,” Lovullo said. “He’s been growing and learning as a pitcher each and every year and each and every outing, and I think he’s ready to get the ball on the back end of our games.”

Bradley took over closing duties in the second half of 2019 and notched 18 saves. In total, he threw 71.2 innings and struck out 87 for a 3.52 ERA.

Lovullo has watched Bradley transition from promising starter prospect to back-end bullpen staple since the manager joined the team in 2017. Bradley was one of the big surprises of that postseason run, where he was one of the best setup men in baseball, posting a 1.73 ERA ahead of closer Fernando Rodney.

The following two years, Bradley was in contention to close, but Brad Boxberger took over closing duties in 2018, and Greg Holland started 2019 in the role.

After Holland struggled through much of the year and was designated for assignment in August, Bradley took over and hasn’t let it go since.

“He knows that he’s paid his dues and watched three really good closers ahead of him go out and close some baseball games,” Lovullo said. “I now know that he feels this is his opportunity and his chance, and I don’t think he wants to give this up.”

Additionally, Madison Bumgarner was named the Opening Day starter. The team is continuing to hammer out the final spots on their 30-man big league roster prior to their first game against the San Diego Padres.