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3 takeaways: Marte and Clarke up, Bradley in

Hitter and pitcher succeed on Saturday, setting tone for Sunday starter
@SteveGilbertMLB
June 15, 2019

WASHINGTON -- The D-backs hit five home runs, including a pair by Ketel Marte, to beat the Nationals, 10-3, on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. Adam Jones, Christian Walker and Kevin Cron each added home runs for the D-backs, who have won eight of their last 10 games, 10 of

WASHINGTON -- The D-backs hit five home runs, including a pair by Ketel Marte, to beat the Nationals, 10-3, on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park.

Adam Jones, Christian Walker and Kevin Cron each added home runs for the D-backs, who have won eight of their last 10 games, 10 of 14 and are 7-2 on their current road trip, which wraps up here on Sunday afternoon.

Here are three takeaways from an eventful day for the D-backs:

1) Marte should not make vacation plans for the All-Star break

With another two home runs on Saturday, Marte now has 19 on the year and an OPS of .882.

In addition, he has played outstanding defense both at second base and in center field, which is a new position for him.

Box score

“He’s done a great job,” shortstop Nick Ahmed said of Marte. “I think he’s always had that power from the right side, but this year from the left side he’s really learned how to keep the bat in the zone a long time and he’s really strong and fast-twitch and he’s doing a good job swinging at the right pitches.”

Marte was in third place in the vote totals released last week to play second base in the All-Star Game. He has made no secret of his desire to play in the game.

“That’s my dream,” he said. “To be in the All-Star Game for the first time in my career.”

2) Taylor Clarke can make adjustments

The first inning was once again a problem spot for right-hander Taylor Clarke, as he allowed three runs in the frame thanks in part to solo homers by Juan Soto and Matt Adams.

It was the fifth time in his six big league starts that Clarke had allowed at least one run in the first.

After that, though, Clarke settled in and did not allow a run before being removed with two outs in the fifth.

“I was able to calm down and work a little bit more down in the zone later,” said the Virginia native, who had 250 friends and family at the game. “Those two homers I gave up were just left up in the zone. Once I felt like I was able to get on top of the ball and drive it a little bit lower in the zone, that’s when I started having some more success.”

3) Archie Bradley is going to start Sunday’s series finale

In need of a starter to replace the injured Jon Duplantier on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park, the D-backs will turn to former setup man Archie Bradley.

Selected seventh overall in the 2011 Draft as a starter, Bradley transitioned to the bullpen in 2017. He thrived in a setup role before struggling in the second half last year and, at times, early this season.

Bradley is not going to be an “opener.” Instead, the right-hander will go for as long as he can, which could mean two or three innings. And it won’t be a permanent role. D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said the team just wants to get through Sunday before deciding what to do about the rotation spot going forward.

“Honestly, I’m just on a pitch-to-pitch basis,” Bradley said. “I’m not looking more into it like I’m going to be a starter again or anything. I’m just trying to take the ball and go as long as I can.”

After struggling this year, Bradley was removed from the primary setup role and incorporated a changeup to go with his fastball and curve. The fact that he has had some success in his last few relief appearances with the changeup was one of the reasons Lovullo felt comfortable using him as a starter.

“I’ve been throwing my changeup more so I feel like I have more than just the fastball and curveball to go at guys,” Bradley said. “I feel like I can kind of mix some things up and throw some guys off. I’m just trying to pitch. It’s a lot different than coming in and trying to get an out in the eighth. It’s starting a game, setting a tone and it starts with the first batter.”

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