Mets’ Brad Brach comes up big in key spot after long layoff
Struggling closer Edwin Diaz may have cast a shadow over the Mets’ pitching Friday night, but on the flip side, Brad Brach has gotten off to a decent start in Queens.
Brach made his 10th appearance as a Met in Friday’s series-opening 5-4 win over the Phillies, when he entered in the sixth inning with the bases loaded.
He relieved Luis Avilan, who had inherited runners on first and third from starter Steven Matz ad just given up a game-tying, two-out double to Maikel Franco in the fifth before getting pulled after 109 pitches in 5²/₃ innings. Avilan promptly issued a six-pitch walk to pinch hitter Phil Gosselin, forcing Mickey Callaway to go to Brach.
Brach, who hadn’t pitched since Aug. 28, threw a nice sequence of a change-up, cutter and fastball to two-time All-Star Jean Segura, who flew out to right field to end the inning.
Brach, a 33-year-old New Jersey native who was signed as a free agent last month, pitched 1 ¹/₃ scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out two batters.
“Not pitching for nine days, going out there bases loaded, almost gave me a chance not to really think and just go out there and throw strikes,” Brach told The Post. “It was good get back out there and get that out there, and obviously I didn’t want to give up the double in that second inning to make it stressful, but the two strikeouts to end it was definitely a good way to end the outing.”
“He was solid,” manager Mickey Callaway said of Brach. “That’s not easy, coming off of quite a layoff. But he came in and got some big outs against some really good hitters. I like his sliders, cutters, change-ups, all of his off-speed pitches were working, he showed his fastball and did a great job.
“It’s good to have him back in the mix so we can get through some of those middle innings.”
Following a 6.13 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in 43 games this season with the Cubs, Brach was released on Aug 5. When the Mets signed him three days later, they were likely looking at his track record from 2012-2018, when he posted a 3.05 ERA for the Padres, Orioles and Braves.
Adding Brach to the bullpen was a low-risk move, as the Mets are only responsible for paying him the prorated league minimum ($555,000) despite his base salary of $3 million with the Cubs. And the right-hander feels like he’s already seamlessly integrated into the team.
“Honestly, from Day 1, everybody here made me feel really comfortable,” Brach said. “It’s been everything and more than I could’ve imagined. The guys have been awesome, it’s been an exciting team to be on. I think the mix between the young guys and the older guys here is great and it’s been exciting, it’s been happy atmosphere regardless of what happens in the games.”
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