With Opening Day just over two weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2015 Orioles every day as they try to defend their American League East title this season.
March 9 – Adam Jones
March 10 – Chris Tillman
March 11 – J.J. Hardy
March 12 – Zach Britton
March 13 – Chris Davis
March 14 – Wei-Yin Chen
March 15 – Jonathan Schoop
March 16 – Travis Snider
March 17 – Kevin Gausman
March 18 – Alejandro De Aza
March 19 – Tommy Hunter
March 20 – Manny Machado
RHP Brad Brach
Opening Day age: 28
Contract status: Under club control through the 2018 season
Minor-league options remaining: None
2014 stats: 7-1, 3.18 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 7.8 K/IP, 6 HR, 62 1/3 innings
Why to be impressed: One of the more unheralded acquisitions last winter, Brach emerged as a reliable member of the bullpen in 2014, even pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the postseason. The right-hander averaged 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014 and showed the best fastball velocity of his major league career while mixing in his slider effectively.
Why to be concerned: Brach experienced some control issues in 2014, averaging 3.6 walks per nine innings pitched. Left-handed hitters posted a .776 on-base plus slugging percentage and hit four homers off Brach in 110 plate appearances last season. Opponents’ .253 batting average on balls in play indicates the former San Diego Padre experienced some good luck in his first season with Baltimore.
2015 outlook: Closer Zach Britton and others have said Brach has some of the best stuff of anyone in the bullpen, and he’ll have a few more opportunities in late-inning situations with the free-agent departure of Andrew Miller. His walk rate and fortunate BAbip are signs that Brach is unlikely to post an ERA in the low 3.00s again, but an ERA between 3.50 and 3.75 appears to be a fair projection.