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Inbox: Is D-backs' closer Holland or Bradley?

Beat reporter Steve Gilbert answers questions from fans
February 8, 2019

With Greg Holland now signed, will he be the closer or is that still going to be Archie Bradley? -- Sam G., ChicagoJudging by general manager Mike Hazen's comments after the signing was announced last week, it seems that Bradley is going to have the leg up on that job

With Greg Holland now signed, will he be the closer or is that still going to be Archie Bradley?
-- Sam G., Chicago

Judging by general manager Mike Hazen's comments after the signing was announced last week, it seems that Bradley is going to have the leg up on that job heading into camp. As bullpen usage continues to evolve, however, the role of the traditional closer seems to be changing. D-backs manager Torey Lovullo really liked deploying Bradley over the past two seasons at the most crucial part of the game, whether that was in the seventh or eighth inning or later.
Of course, at that time Lovullo had Fernando Rodney and then Brad Boxberger as his designated closer. Lovullo has a lot of confidence in Bradley and likes the way he handles pressure situations. I would imagine Lovullo will tell us when camp opens that he's leaning toward Bradley as his closer, but we'll have to see. Either way, you can count on Bradley, Holland and Yoshihisa Hirano all pitching in leverage situations in the later innings.
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Give me a reason to be hopeful that Holland still has something left after being a disappointment last year with the Cardinals.
-- Kyle P., Phoenix

There's no getting around the fact that Holland struggled in 32 games with the Cardinals, who released him on Aug. 1 before he caught on with the Nationals to end the season. The D-backs attribute a lot of his St. Louis woes to the fact that he didn't sign until the end of Spring Training. They will point to his outstanding work with Washington -- an 0.84 ERA over 24 appearances -- as more representative of how good he can be.
"I think the command was that much better, the definition of his stuff was that much better," Hazen said about Holland's time with the Nationals. "We think Spring Training probably had some impact on him last year and how it may have gone in St. Louis, it seemed like it didn't get off to the greatest start and maybe snowballed from there. I think once he caught his breath and was ready to go in the middle of the year and into Washington, he threw the ball much, much better, back to what we've all been accustomed to. We just saw his stuff play that much more effectively down in the zone. The slider was sharper and more effective when it was down and down more consistently. That was kind of the perspective we saw it from."
With Paul Goldschmidt gone, we've been told most likely it will be Jake Lamb at first. Is there a possibility Christian Walker will have some playing time at first since he never really got a shot since [Goldschmidt] was the face of the company at the time?
-- Andy L., Tucson

I think the D-backs would like to have a right-handed hitter whom they could pair up with Lamb at first. Not in the sense that Lamb would sit against left-handers, but on the days that a really tough lefty starts it would be a good time to give him a day off. Walker is certainly one of the candidates they will look at this spring, as well as Kevin Cron.

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