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In the sixth inning Tuesday night, Diamondbacks right-hander Archie Bradley followed a 97 mph fastball and a 91 mph cutter with a sharp-breaking curveball. The Giants’ Chris Marrero had little chance, and Bradley bounded off the mound and strutted around it.

There was little doubt about how Bradley felt about this stuff during an exhilarating 3 1/3-inning relief outing in which he struck out seven. In the eyes of rival scouts, it looked as good as it must have felt.

“He was electric,” a scout with an American League club said. “He was like Wade Davis out there. Everything he threw was above-average. That was (on the 20-80 scouting scale) a 70 fastball, 70 curve, 60 cutter. That must have been exciting for (the Diamondbacks) to see.”

Squeezed out of a packed rotation, the outing goes down as Bradley’s first career relief appearance. It also might go down as the most impressive he’s ever looked in a big-league game.

“Who was that guy?” another scout asked tongue-in-cheek. “That was really impressive.”

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Of the 2,575 pitches Bradley threw last season, 18 were 96 mph or harder. He threw 19 such pitches on Tuesday night alone.

It was a sort of return to form, in a sense, for Bradley, who in his second full season as a professional in 2013 dominated the Double-A Southern League with that same kind of explosive stuff. His performance that year made him a consensus Top 10 prospect in all of baseball prior to the next season, but scouts say the quality of Bradley’s stuff has fluctuated in the intervening years.

The bump in stuff could be explained, at least in part, by the jump many starters experience when they shift into a relief role and no longer need to save their bullets. But Bradley didn’t just throw hard for one inning; he maintained his stuff through 57 pitches.

The cutter he was using on Tuesday night is a relatively new weapon; he threw the pitch briefly in the fall league in 2014 but shelved it until this spring.

As revelatory as Bradley’s outing was for the Diamondbacks, it also raises questions about what’s next. While manager Torey Lovullo and pitching coach Mike Butcher raved about the value Bradley provided by saving the bullpen in what was an 8-4 loss, he also entered a game when the club was down six runs. That is, the pitcher who had one of the Diamondbacks’ most impressive relief outings in years – and who finished spring training with several similar impressive performances – was working in a mop-up role.

“He is going to continue in that role,” Lovullo said. “I don’t think we’re going to fast-forward anything with Archie. I think guys are going to migrate to certain roles. And, at this point in time, we know he’s stretched out and he’s going to continue to be our long guy.

“When he doesn’t have that ability to go that many pitches, he might find himself in the back end of games. We haven’t really defined bullpen roles quite yet. These guys are going to show us what they can do.”

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When asked if it’s tempting to use Bradley in higher-leverage situations, Butcher smiled and his eyes widened.

“That’s his first time ever throwing out of the bullpen,” Butcher said. “There’s a lot to like, let’s put it that way. We’ll see how it goes moving forward.”

Lovullo said the long-term plan for Bradley remains the same, saying the club continues to view him “as a main piece of this puzzle” in the starting rotation. But with five starters ahead of him, the Diamondbacks felt Bradley could still impact the team as a reliever.

“I think we’re in a good situation where we can have a guy like that and put him in our bullpen and have enough depth not only in the rotation up here, but as far as having rotation depth in the minor leagues as well,” Butcher said. “This fits for him and our team right now.”

Bradley was not available for comment on Wednesday because he wasn’t at Chase Field. He was said to be experiencing flu-like symptoms, and the team had him stay home.

Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.

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