A vintage season out of relief pitcher Brad Brach in 2020 would be huge for the New York Mets bullpen.
Don’t look now, but the New York Mets are shaping up to have a pretty good bullpen in 2020. That is all, of course, dependent on the most vulgar two-letter word in the franchise’s dictionary: if.
If the relievers on the Mets pitch anywhere near the level they have in the recent past, things are going to go much differently in the coming season.
One of those guys who could give the team a serious boost is Brad Brach. Although a year closer to the end, he showed us he had something left in him last year. Brach’s 14.2 innings with the Mets resulted in a 3.68 ERA and was enough for Brodie Van Wagenen to re-sign the veteran righty for another season.
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From pretty much 2012-2017, Brach was one of baseball’s most reliable relievers. He went 27-17 with a 2.96 ERA during this time. Much of it was spent as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, pitching in the bandbox known as Camden Yards.
Despite playing in the American League and in a hitter’s ballpark, Brach had a successful stint in Baltimore. Until his final half-season with them in 2018, he never posted an ERA above 3.18. He even made the 2016 All-Star team as a middle reliever.
Brach won’t have nearly as many responsibilities with the Mets this year as he did with the Orioles during his best days. Still, a vintage version of the Jersey boy in 2020 can safeguard against some tragic bullpen outings.
This season will be Brach’s tenth in the big leagues and his age 34 campaign. As a speedy outfielder, I might worry. As a relief pitcher with a nice track-record, I’m not so worried.
Plenty of relievers have performed at a high level well into their 30s. Although I wouldn’t date predict a trip to the All-Star Game, he could definitely help turn this bullpen’s fortunes around.
Perhaps the biggest concern for Brach is that he has a repeat of the last two seasons. In 2018, he struggled with the Orioles before a trade to the Atlanta Braves midseason revitalized him. The same thing happened in 2019. Brach was horrible for the Chicago Cubs with a 6.13 ERA in 39.2 frames. With New York, he was far better.
Could we, again, see Brach struggle early on in 2020?
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The Mets don’t need anything spectacular out of Brach this year. To swear once more, “if” they do get more, it’s a nice little treat.