Of the hodgepodge of relievers the Mets added to the roster at various points in the season—via promotion from the minor leagues, via trade, or via dumpster diving—Brad Brach was by far the most effective of the bunch. After posting a 6.13 ERA with the Cubs over 42 games and struggling mightily with his command, Brach was designated for assignment on August 3rd. He had eight major-league offers, but he chose the Mets, who signed him five days later.
Brach chose the Mets (at least in part) because he was born in Freehold, New Jersey and grew up a Mets fan. He even attended a World Series game in 2015. He was drafted by the Padres in 2008, but made his mark in baseball with the Orioles as a setup man from 2014-2018. He was an All-Star with the Orioles in 2016 and brought to Queens with him ample postseason experience—an attribute coveted by the playoff-hopeful Mets during their August run. In addition to two playoff runs with the Orioles, he made two appearances in the 2018 NLDS with the Braves after being one of the many victims of the Orioles fire sale a the trading deadline that season. In 327 2⁄3 career innings as an Oriole, Brach pitched to a 2.99 ERA and was a key cog for the successful Orioles teams of the mid-2010s.
It was starting to look like that version of Brad Brach was gone in his age 33 season. He issued 28 free passes in just under 40 innings of work as a Cub in 2019. But the Mets thought he may have been tipping his changeup during his time with the Cubs and they worked with him to tweak his delivery. The results were impressive over a small sample size in the second half. Brach issued just three walks in 14 2⁄3 innings as a Met, posting a 3.68 ERA and a 2.67 FIP down the stretch.
Like many of the relievers in Mickey Callaway’s bullpen, Brach was not always deployed properly in a way that maximized his strengths. Despite being much more effective against right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters, he was used as a full-inning reliever for the most part. But all told, he had more good outings than poor ones and got even better as his tenure in Flushing went on; he gave up just one run the entire month of September over seven appearances.
Between a second-half turnaround attributable, at least in part, to a tangible adjustment and the enthusiasm he demonstrated pitching for his childhood team, taking a shot on Brach in 2020 feels like a no-brainer. His contract with the Cubs included a mutual option for 2020, but that was rendered void when he was released. He is not too far removed from being a first-division setup man, but would likely not command the price tag of one. Of course, it’s going to take a lot more than bringing Brad Brach back to fix the Mets’ bullpen. But, a cheapish one-year deal for Brach as a complement other moves to bolster the relief corps? There are worse ideas.