Bradley said his fingernail is 100 percent healthy, Zach Buchanan of The Athletic reports. "Woo! Boy, this nail is solid. I'm throwing some hammers this year. I'm going to have one of the best curveballs in the big leagues this year. It's nasty." Bradley dealt with a cracked fingernail for much of the 2018 season, which apparently hindered his ability to throw his curveball as desired, resulting in decreased usage and effectiveness. With the issue behind him, Bradley will look to return to his 2017 form (1.73 ERA, 9.7 K/9 in 71.2 innings). The right-hander is expected to compete with Greg Holland and Yoshihisa Hirano for the team's closer role in spring training.
Manager Torey Lovullo said it's "way too premature" to name Bradley as the team's closer, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports. Lovullo stated in December that he's leaning towards using Bradley as the closer, and while Saturday's statement doesn't entirely contradict that, it does seem to indicate that the Diamondbacks will at least seriously consider other options. Despite his former experience as a starter, Bradley averaged less than an inning per appearance last season, so it doesn't seem like Lovullo's hesitance to name him as a closer stems from a desire to use him in a multi-inning role. Greg Holland was poor last year but has 189 career saves, and Yoshihisa Hirano recorded 156 saves in Japan, so the manger has more experienced alternatives should he choose to go another route.
Bradley agreed to a one-year contract with the Diamondbacks on Friday, avoiding arbitration. Bradley appears to have the best shot at locking up the closer role for the upcoming 2019 season, and he'll shift his focus to winning that job after evading the arbitration process. He made 76 relief appearances for the Diamondbacks a year ago, posting a 3.64 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 75 punchouts across 71.2 frames.
Manager Torey Lovullo said he's leaning towards using Bradley as his closer in 2019, Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic reports. With Brad Boxberger hitting the open market, Bradley appears to be the leading candidate to take over as the team's primary closer heading into 2019. The 26-year-old has spent the previous two seasons in a multi-inning relief role, compiling a combined 2.68 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 154:41 K:BB across 144.2 innings during that stretch. With Yoshihisa Hirano still looming in the team's bullpen -- coupled with Bradley's ability to pitch multiple innings -- the Diamondbacks could still wind up using the right-hander in a more versatile back-end role.
Bradley blew his eighth save of the season in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Padres in 10 innings after yielding the game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth. He retired three of the six batters he faced and allowed three base hits. Bradley closed out the 2018 campaign by surrendering leads in both of his last two appearances, bringing his total of blown saves to four just in September alone. While Bradley still turned in useful ratios (3.64 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 9.4 K/9) this season, all amounted to dramatic downturns from 2017, when he emerged as one of the majors' top middle-relief arms. The Diamondbacks are expected to address the back end of the bullpen through free agency or the trade market this winter, but that won't necessarily preclude Bradley from receiving an opportunity to close next season.