With Opening Day less than three weeks away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
RP Brad Brach
Opening Day age: 30
Contract status: Under club control through the 2018 season
2016 stats: 10-4, 2 saves, 2.05 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 7 HR, 79 IP
Why to be impressed: The right-hander earned his first invitation to the All-Star Game in the process of setting career-best marks in ERA, WHIP, strikeout rate, walk rate, and wins above replacement (2.6). Making that even more impressive was Brach throwing a whopping 49 1/3 innings and posting a 0.91 ERA before the All-Star break, picking up the slack in the Baltimore bullpen for an injured Darren O’Day.
Why to be concerned: That workload took its toll on Brach as he posted an underwhelming 3.94 ERA in the second half as manager Buck Showalter tried to give him extra rest when possible. Known for his ability to get superb results against hitters from either side of the plate, he surrendered a .784 OPS against lefties, which was significant with the Orioles lacking a lefty specialist for much of the season.
2017 outlook: Expecting Brach to duplicate his 2016 first half would be unfair as opponents owned a .211 batting average on balls in play over that time, but his 2.61 ERA over his three years with Baltimore speaks for itself. Striking out more than a batter per inning and four years younger than O’Day, Brach makes a strong case to be the club’s top setup man in 2017.
2017 not-so-scientific projections: 6-4, 3 saves, 2.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 7 HR, 73 IP