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Mets reliever Brad Brach became more than “just another arm” in the bullpen

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 22: Brad Brach #29 of the New York Mets pitches in the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 22, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 22: Brad Brach #29 of the New York Mets pitches in the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on September 22, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images)
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In his short time with the New York Mets, Brad Brach showed them that he was more than another fringe major league player pitching out of the bullpen.

In early August, things were going well for the New York Mets. They were winning games and unafraid to sign veteran free agents who were cut by their teams. One of the players they brought to Flushing was veteran reliever Brad Brach. A man who grew up rooting for the Mets from New Jersey, Brach’s time with the Mets this season may go forgotten.

After many successful years with the San Diego Padres and Baltimore Orioles, Brach struggled in 2018 before a trade to the Atlanta Braves. He re-established his credibility down the stretch for them but seemed to lose it again at the start of 2019.

As a member of the Chicago Cubs this year, Brach had a 6.13 ERA in just under 40 innings. With the Mets, he managed to turn things around in his final two months.

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Brach finished his time in New York with a 3.68 ERA in 14.2 innings of work. It’s a small sample size, sure. With more than a strikeout per inning and fewer than two walks per nine, he’s a veteran hurler the team could use again in 2020.

Brach wasn’t the absolute stopper in the bullpen we dreamed he could be. He had his rough days with the Metropolitans but proved worthwhile.

At age 34 next year, it’s understandable why there may be some hesitation to bring him back. Brach is breaking down. His late-season resurgence in Atlanta back in 2018 may have been a final rush of adrenaline. To a lesser extent, he did the same with the Mets in 2019.

Bullpen issues plagued the Mets for much of 2019. There wasn’t a reliever on this roster without some stretch of ugliness. Even Seth Lugo had his weeks of pitching poorly. And while Justin Wilson’s overall numbers look quite fantastic, he was average before an early IL stint.

Brach may have done little to help the Mets get over the hump. He was a risk worth taking, though. In the first year without an August trade deadline, teams had to make do with what they had available. This meant searching the free agent market for players who failed elsewhere. Brach was one of many players fitting this description.

The averageness we saw from Brach down the stretch was enough for me to reconsider my original stance on him. Weeks ago, I began writing about why he was nothing more than another arm in the bullpen. I held off on publishing the piece because my initial reaction was completely wrong.

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Building up a bullpen is goal number one for this team after finding their next manager. When considering how disastrous Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia were, the Mets need as much of a sure thing as they can find. Brach may not be a sure thing, but he’s certainly someone with a chance to give them far more than their Triple-A relievers can.

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