Diamondbacks pitching prospect Archie Bradley has the unenviable task of opposing 2014 NL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw Saturday night in his major league debut against the Dodgers. As if simply making a big league debut isn’t stressful enough, he’ll have to get through the best pitcher of this generation if he wants a win. Bradley, though, seems to be looking forward to the challenge. Via MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert:
“I mean, it’s exciting,” Bradley said. “He’s one of the best, if not the best, in all of baseball. I just take it as a challenge, like why not start my career against someone like him? At the end of the day it’s about keeping them from scoring and he’s going to do the same. So it’s just about pitching my game.”
Bradley pitched well during Cactus League play this spring, posting a 1.61 ERA and a 14/6 K/BB ratio in 22 1/3 innings. His performance gave the D’Backs enough confidence to trade Trevor Cahill to the Braves, opening up a starting rotation spot.
Entering this season, Bradley was rated the #11 overall prospect by Baseball Prospectus. The 22-year-old was also rated #15 overall by MLB.com and #25 by Baseball America.
To make things more difficult, Bradley will also have to face Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who is seeing beach balls to start the season. Gonzalez is 11-for-18 with five home runs and 11 RBI. Three of those home runs came in one game, Wednesday against the Padres.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.