Archie Bradley could be Phillies closer come Opening Day
By Matt Rappa
When new Philadelphia Phillies reliever Archie Bradley had his introductory press conference earlier this offseason, manager Joe Girardi was asked what he envisions the right-hander’s role being for the team during the 2021 season.
Furthermore, Girardi was questioned whether Bradley will take over the closer role — a position fellow right-hander Hector Neris has mostly filled in recently seasons.
Archie Bradley is poised to earn the closer role out of spring training.
The skipper replied that was one of the things the Phillies were “so excited about” when they talked to Bradley. “What he told you today is what he told me — ‘I just want to pitch. I don’t care when I pitch; it doesn’t matter to me,'” Girardi said.
The seven year veteran has recorded 24 combined saves over the past two seasons, blowing just four of the opportunities. Neris, meanwhile, has 33 saves in 42 opportunities in the same stretch.
“I think [Bradley] definitely has the ability to close,” Girardi continued. “We’ll just let it iron itself out in spring training.”
The Phillies are looking to have defined bullpen roles during the 2021 season.
Fast-forward to now, and spring training is well underway. The 2009 World Series-winning manager joined SportsRadio 94 WIP Tuesday morning and discussed his goal for the bullpen by the time the Phillies leave Clearwater.
“When I look at this year, I like the ‘stable of arms’ we have,” Girardi said. “My goal, by the time we leave spring training, is we have a ninth-inning guy; maybe have two eighth-inning guys, a right-hander and left-hander if we have to; and the roles are a lot more defined.”
Bradley could very well be poised to be Girardi’s staple “ninth-inning guy” come Opening Day, home on April 1 against the Atlanta Braves.
Joe Girardi says nothing seemed to go right for the 2020 Phillies bullpen.
Girardi continued how the Phillies had defined roles at the beginning of the 2020 season, but that the pitchers struggled and they had to make changes. Then, when they brought in pitchers who had success elsewhere, that did not translate over to red pinstripes.
“For whatever reason, they weren’t having success with us and we couldn’t define those roles,” Girardi said. “It was difficult at times, but the guys’ effort was there. The preparation was there. I really believe we could have told hitters what was coming, and we would have fared better. I really believe that. I just think it was one of those stretches, for about 30 days, where it just seemed like nothing went right.”
“Whoever we brought in, it didn’t go right. I felt for those guys. My heart hurt for those guys, because they were trying,” he added. “We were trying different things and combinations, and it just didn’t work.”
The best-case scenario for Bradley joining the Phillies is that things do go right, and that he thrives in a defined role. While nothing is currently set in stone, his role very well could be closer out of the gate.