Brad Brach was well on his way to a very nice success story—a revitalized career with the team he grew up rooting for. At age 33, the reliever who had previously been a setup man in a playoff bullpen and an All Star in 2016 found himself unsigned well into the 2018-2019 offseason. He was finally picked up by the Cubs, but a disastrous campaign in Chicago followed that saw his walk rate soar and left him spending much of the first half of 2019 looking for answers as to why his results suddenly dropped off a cliff.
The Cubs cut him loose loose in August and the Mets picked him up off waivers, feeling that his stuff was still there, but he may have been tipping his pitches and mechanical adjustments could help him regain his success. Whatever the Mets’ coaching staff did with Brach was a revelation; he underwent a renaissance with the Mets in the second half last season, posting a 3.68 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 2.62 FIP, and 3.78 DRA over 14 2⁄3 down the stretch when the Mets desperately needed another somewhat reliable bullpen arm to keep their playoff hopes alive. Ultimately the Mets fell short, but Brach earned himself a quick re-up with the team of his childhood fandom in December to the tune of a one-year, $850,000 contract with a player option for 2021.
He looked good early in spring before coronavirus brought preparations for the season to a halt. The projection systems were bullish on Brach and he seemed well on his way to soaking up a lot of innings for the Mets in middle relief as an alternative to the likes of Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame, Daniel Zamora, Tyler Bashlor, and others.
However, as summer camp began, Brach did not report and a reason was not given. Then, a week ago on July 15 the Mets placed him and Jared Hughes on the injured list—again, for an undisclosed reason. Of course, any time this season a player is placed on the injured list without the team giving a reason, it prompts speculation that the player has coronavirus. But the team has not confirmed a positive test for Brach, so at this time it remains unclear how long he’ll be sidelined. Between Brach, Hughes, and Robert Gsellman all starting the season on the IL, the Mets’ middle relief corps has taken a substantial hit. It’s a shame for Brach, who could see his career resurrected with a replication of his second half success in 2019.