With Opening Day only a month away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2016 Orioles every day as they try to return to the playoffs for the third time in five years this season.
RP Brad Brach
Contract status: Under club control through the 2018 season
2015 stats: 5-3, 2.72 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 10.1 K/IP, 4.3 BB/IP, 7 HR, 79 1/3 innings
Why to be impressed: The right-hander has quietly become the most reliable option in the bullpen behind 2015 All-Star selections Zach Britton and Darren O’Day and increased his strikeouts per nine innings from 7.8 in 2014 to an impressive 10.1 last season. Brach held left-handed hitters to a minuscule .184 average last season, making him a strong option for virtually any matchup.
Why to be concerned: Manager Buck Showalter leaned on Brach to pitch more innings than any reliever in the Baltimore bullpen, something to keep in mind going into 2016. He is also prone to having stretches when he struggles with his control, which was especially true after the All-Star break last year when he walked 22 batters over his final 35 2/3 innings.
2016 outlook: Relievers can be volatile, but there’s little reason to think Brach won’t remain effective due to his ability to miss bats and retire hitters from both sides of the plate. It will be interesting to see how the presence of the talented Mychal Givens will impact Brach’s role, but Showalter has shown a lot of faith in the right-hander who has been one of Dan Duquette’s best under-the-radar additions.
2016 not-so-scientific projections: 6-4, 3.08 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 9.5 K/IP, 3.7 BB/IP, 6 HR, 74 innings