Brad Brach's ascent towards bullpen stardom took another major leap forward in 2016. Coming off a stellar 2015 season in which he posted a 2.72 ERA, the veteran reliever went on to significantly lower his ERA, WHIP and walk rate, while increasing his already impressive strikeout rate in 2016. He finished the season with a 2.05 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 8.0 percent walk rate and 29.6 percent strikeout rate. With the team's primary setup man, Darren O'Day, missing a number of games due to injury, Brach was able to record a career-high 24 holds. His superb season earned him his first All-Star Game appearance, which is fairly rare for a reliever who does not operate in the closer role. For the 2017 season, he will again be utilized in high-leverage situations and may be a Zach Britton injury away from seeing save chances.
Brach won his arbitration case against the Orioles and will be awarded $3.05 million, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. The reliever enjoyed his best big league season in 2016, with a 2.05 ERA, 10.48 K/9, 2.85 BB/9, two saves, 24 holds and 10 wins. He and Darren O'Day would be the likeliest choices to earn save chances should Zach Britton miss time. In deep fantasy leagues, Brach could help clubs as a ratio-boosting reliever.
Brach underwent a minor knee surgery on October 11 to remove a small tear in his left meniscus, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports. Brach said that the procedure was very minor and that he is already feeling "close to 100 percent already", so this should be of no concern to anyone. The reliever will likely be back on track for his normal offseason routines in the near future and completely healthy for spring training.
Brach allowed two runs on two hits, including a Mookie Betts home run, in Tuesday's loss to the Red Sox. Brach was pinned with the loss, as the Betts home run proved to be the game winner. Brach had a 0.91 ERA and a .155 average against prior to the All-Star Game. Since then, he has a 4.50 ERA and a .271 average against. It would have been nearly impossible to hold up his first half numbers for the entire season, but Brach has been merely human since then. He still sees lots of appearances in high leverage situations, which is why Brach leads all relievers with 19 wins since 2014 when he joined the Orioles.
Brach allowed a run on two hits with two walks while retiring two batters in Tuesday's win over the Rangers. Brach has been dominant for most of the season while earning his first All-Star nod last month. He has allowed four runs - three earned - in his last five outings and raised his ERA from 0.86 to 1.27 in the process. When looking at his body of work this season, it is easy to chalk this up to a couple of marginally bad outings. He is still one of the best middle relief pitchers in the game today.
Brach struck out all three hitters he faced Tuesday, then tossed a scoreless 1.2 innings with three more strikeouts Wednesday after being announced as a first time All-Star. Brach absolutely earned his way on the team, as he leads all MLB relievers in WAR, a category that does not count the value of a save. Brach has thrown 47.1 innings, which is more than any closer and also helps aid his WAR number. That said, Brach's WHIIP is just 0.80 and he has a 10.65 K/9 with 56 strikeouts on the season.