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Who's in the mix for D-backs' closer role?

Bradley, Holland are front-runners, but there are dark-horse candidates
@SteveGilbertMLB
February 19, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There's competition for the final spots in the bullpen. There's still some bench spots to be sorted through. They'll need to figure out how Ketel Marte looks in center field and Jake Lamb at first. But the most high-profile battle for the D-backs this spring will be

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There's competition for the final spots in the bullpen. There's still some bench spots to be sorted through. They'll need to figure out how Ketel Marte looks in center field and Jake Lamb at first.

But the most high-profile battle for the D-backs this spring will be for the closer's role.

Here's a look at what you need to know about it:

THE CANDIDATES

Archie Bradley

Bradley seemed almost a lock for the role right up until the team signed free agent Greg Holland at the end of January.

Manager Torey Lovullo on Bradley: "I like the presence, I like the confidence, the personality that steps on the mound and the ability to execute under any circumstance. He doesn't back down from his stuff. He believes he's going to go out and execute and get you out. I think all good closers have that mentality. There are some things he hasn't walked through yet as a closer."

Bradley on his role: "I just want to win. I don't care if it's the ninth inning, I don't care if it's the sixth inning, I don't care if it's starting a game."

Greg Holland

When they signed him, the D-backs said Holland would have the opportunity to compete for the closer's role. After a rough start last year with the Cardinals, Holland found his rhythm with the Nationals and had a good second half.

Lovullo on Holland: "He's walking around with some hardware [World Series ring] that we all want to get put on our hands. He's done it before and he's executed and been very, very successful at it."

Holland on his role: "I want the ball in those close games and those tight situations. Whether it's the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, 11th innings, that's just how it shakes down."

OTHERS IN MIX

Yoshihisa Hirano and Yoan Lopez will also be competing to pitch in high-leverage situations and can't be ruled out as possible closers at some point during the season.

In his first season after coming over from Japan last year, Hirano impressed Lovullo with his ability to keep his heartbeat steady regardless of the pressure he faced in a given situation.

Lopez, meanwhile, showed some overpowering stuff and the moxie of a closer when he made his big league debut in September.

HOW THEY'LL BE JUDGED

This kind of competition is nothing new for the D-backs under Lovullo. Last year, it was a three-man race between Bradley, Hirano and Brad Boxberger, with Boxberger ending up with the role.

It can be tricky to have closer competitions in the spring -- by the time the ninth inning rolls around, most of the other team's starting players are long gone -- but Lovullo will probably rely on how he sees each of the candidate’s stuff and performance overall.

"It's going to be a nice little competition for them," Lovullo said.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.