There are certainly a plethora of names in MLB that would be considered “household names”. These would be the guys who are the big time superstars that even non-baseball fans may recognize. I am talking about the likes of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant to name a few.
When it comes to relief pitchers, there are not as many of these household names. But there are guys like Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman who would certainly top the list. We are not here to talk about those guys, however. Instead, we are here to discuss a man who is one of MLB’s best relievers, even if his name may not be known by everyone around the country. I am referring to Brad Brach, the man filling in for the injured Zach Britton of the Baltimore Orioles.
Brach has been a player I have followed closely in the last four or so years. Why may you ask? Well, for starters, he is from my hometown of Freehold, New Jersey. He also attended Monmouth University, which just so happens to be the school I am about to graduate from in a few days. So I got myself a Brad Brach shirt and have been enjoying the ride as his career continues to flourish.
He was drafted by the San Diego Padres back in 2008. He would make his MLB debut with the club three years later in 2011. Then before his age 28 season, he was dealt to the Orioles in a one-sided deal for the birds. His career has been on the up and up ever since.
It was last year that he truly burst onto the scene. Over the course of the 2016 season, he pitched 79 innings over the course of 71 games. Over that span he earned a 2.05 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and struck out 92 while walking only 25 on his way to 10 wins, two saves and 24 holds. He would go on to earn a much deserved first All-Star appearance back at his old stadium, Petco Park in San Diego.
The only thing that kept people from hearing his name more often is the fact that Zach Britton is one of the most dominant closers in baseball. Unfortunately for relievers like Brach, the set-up men don’t usually get the same amount of attention as the guy closing out ballgames.
But Brach has been given some extra spotlight this season. This is because Britton is currently on the disabled list for the second time with a forearm strain. As a result, Brach has been called upon as the team’s primary closer for the majority of the season when Britton has been on the shelf.
And Brach surely has not disappointed. While stepping up to the closer’s role, he has also stepped up his game. He is currently sporting a 2.12 ERA, 0.82 WHIP over the course of 17 innings. He also has 17 strikeouts, six walks, as well as six saves and six holds.
Brach is well on his way to a second straight All-Star appearance. He will continue to be the Baltimore Orioles’ primary reliever while Britton remains sidelined. So while I never like to see a player get hurt, I am glad Brach has been afforded this opportunity to shine in a slightly bigger role.
So if you are just a casual baseball fan, get familiar with the name Brad Brach of the Baltimore Orioles. The man is one of the best arms in Major League Baseball coming out of the bullpen. He is not going anywhere, as he is in the prime of his career as well.
Monmouth Univerity may not produce a ton of MLB players, but Brach, who had his number retired at the school late last year, is certainly a highlight of the school’s athletics programs. Keep up the good work Brad, myself and the world of baseball will be rooting for you!