Rookie pitcher Taj Bradley won his first three starts of the season and it looked like he would be a candidate for the American League Rookie of the Year award.
Well, Bradley is no longer in that conversation and he currently has more losses than wins. He will have a chance to win his first game since June 21 on Wednesday as Tampa Bay takes on the Minnesota Twins.
Tampa Bay is looking to make a run at winning the AL East and it certainly won’t be an easy task with Baltimore leading the way.
But Bradley will get a chance to experience meaningful baseball in his rookie year as the season nears an end.
Taj Bradley Learning The Ropes
Through 18 starts, he has a 5-7 record with a 5.44 ERA and 111 strikeouts. After struggling during the month of July, he was sent down to Triple-A and made five starts going 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA.
He returned to the big leagues and started against the Cleveland Guardians on September 3 and went five innings giving up two runs, one unearned, while walking five and striking out seven.
Bradley got the no decision during that contest and he spoke about his mindset for the rest of the season after that game.
“I mean, it kind of hasn’t hit me yet,” Bradley said in an article from the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m just up here trying to hit on everything I learned in Triple-A. And just take it one day at a time. I haven’t really looked too far ahead into September, October, anything like that.”
We have to remember that this is Bradley’s first year and there’s work that needs to be done. But this young pitcher has star talent written all over him.
“Just find that consistency,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said after Bradley’s performance against Cleveland. “He had some three-batter stints where it looked really, really in sync. And then he had a couple batters where it got a little out of whack. Something that maybe you would expect from a young guy.”
“But it’s all in there. I mean, for him to get the strikeouts that he did against a lineup that does not strike out (much), that speaks to how good stuff is.”
The 22-year-old will look to bounce back from his last start against Seattle where he gave up four earned runs on six hits, three of those home runs, through six and one third innings of work.
These starts will definitely prepare Bradley for the postseason and Tampa Bay will look to see how the rookie performs in his next start and throughout the remainder of the season.
One thing that Bradley has got in his first year is experience. You better believe he is going to look back at his rookie season and make the necessary adjustments so he can come back better and more effective in his sophomore season.