Milwaukee Brewers: Is Relief Pitcher Brad Brach a FA Target?

As the MLB offseason is in full swing, the Milwaukee Brewers will be looking to add depth to their already stout bullpen and relief pitcher Brad Brach could be a nice value added option out of this year’s free agency pool.

Under manager Craig Counsell‘s unique approach in utilizing the bullpen in 2018, the Milwaukee Brewers were able to put together one of their best seasons in team history behind the strength of their out getters.

Heading into 2019, Milwaukee will look to add another out getter to the bullpen for Counsell to choose from. Especially with Joakim Soria heading to free agency, along with Xavier Cedeno and Dan Jennings up for arbitration.

Although 2018 was a down season for Brad Brach with the Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves, he could be a fine addition at a good value for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Brach’s career

The 33-year-old, right-hander Brad Brach has been around the big leagues for a number of seasons now and has had some great success.

Brach was drafted by the San Diego Padres back in 2008 and made his Major League debut in August of 2011. Brach was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in 2013, and his career really took off.

From 2014 to 2017, Brach had a cumulative ERA of 2.74 and recorded 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. In addition he made his one and only All-Star team in 2016.

Unfortunately, the 2018 season did not begin well for Brach and he was traded to the Atlanta Braves just before the July 31st trade deadline.

Nevertheless, overall Brach has had a successful big league career. He has a cumulative ERA of 3.08, a WHIP of 1.274 and his opponents are batting just .226 against him. Compared to the last four years, 2018’s down performance was an outlier for Brach.

Brach in 2018

When looking back at 2018 for Brach, statistically it really was a tale of two halves for him. However, even as his stat line improved when he went to Atlanta, it was not fully reflective of his performance on the mound.

The big issue for Brach in 2018 was his inability to keep runners off of the bases. In the first half with Baltimore, Brach posted a 4.46 ERA with a WHIP of 1.734. In his 36.1 innings he gave up 45 hits and an additional 18 walks.

Then after the All-Star break in which a majority of his innings were pitched with Atlanta, Brach saw his ERA drop to 2.39 including 0.73 in the month of August. Even though Brach’s WHIP did improve in he second half to 1.405, it was still higher than his career average.

Even as his ERA improved, Brach’s underlying issue of allowing men on base persisted. In his 26.1 innings after the All-Star break, Brach allowed 27 hits,10 walks, and struck out just 7.5 batters per nine innings pitched. That’s two fewer strikeouts than his 9.5 career average.

What types of pitches does Brach throw?

Like many relief pitchers, Brach relies heavily on his fastball but he also utilizes a change-up and a slider relatively often.

Brach’s fastball has solid velocity that ranges from 93-95 mph. He generates a majority of his strikeouts with this pitch and does a great job of locating the ball low in the zone, generating a high number of ground balls when contact is made.

His change-up and slider are both thrown in the mid-80s and are located low in the zone as well. Brach’s change-up tends to dive out of the zone, while the slider has a slight glove-side cut action.

One important factor that has made Brach a successful pitcher is that he locates all three of his pitches low in the zone, limiting the home run ball, thus avoiding any big innings. Even in a down 2018 season, Brach gave up just five home runs which is a great attribute to have in the hitter friendly confines of Miller Park.

Why does Brach make sense?

Despite his performance this past season, looking at Brach’s career numbers he is a much better pitcher than what we saw in 2018 and with a strong finish to the season, he could be positioned well for a bounce back year in 2019.

Yes it’s true that Brach’s stock took a hit this year but that could play into the Brewers favor. He began 2018 on a one year deal with Baltimore for $5.165 million. Given his recent performance, the Milwaukee Brewers could potentially add Brach for a similar salary or less.

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The Milwaukee Brewers may be able to take advantage and buy low on Brach. Adding a valuable arm with a proven track record to their bullpen, giving them the additional depth that they desire.