Brad Brach poised to take on new role as Orioles’ closer
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Brad Brach will likely have a new role this year with the Baltimore Orioles.
In the past, the 31-year-old right-hand reliever was the setup man for Zach Britton. But with Britton starting the season on the 60-day disabled list recovering from a torn right Achilles tendon, Brach is line to become Baltimore’s closer.
While manager Buck Showalter hasn’t designated Brach the closer, it’s expected he will do so shortly.
In 2017, Brach filled in for Britton when he missed nearly the entire first half of the season on the disabled list with a left forearm strain. Brach wasn’t nearly the closer that Britton was. After all, he was filling in for a pitcher who set the American League record with 60 consecutive converted saves.
He went 4-5 with a 3.18 ERA. Brach converted 18 of 24 save chances.
“I gained confidence about that role with him in that he’s handled the adversity well and the season didn’t get away from him,” Showalter said.
During spring training Showalter is keeping his four top starters away from American League East opponents and the Minnesota Twins, against whom they’ll open the season. He’s also sharply limiting Brach’s exposure to AL East teams in the spring, too.
Brach has pitched just three innings in Grapefruit League games, and is getting additional work in simulated and minor league games. He isn’t worried about imagining he’s facing the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees in August while in spring training.
“Honestly, when the regular season starts, you just take past experience,” Brach said. “That’s why spring is spring, you get your work in and be ready to go when the season starts, and once the season starts that pressure you can’t replicate it here, that adrenaline rush that you get. It’s just kind of one of those things where you have to take your past experiences and just kind of apply when the season starts.”
Along with Britton, who could return in late May or June, center fielder Adam Jones and shortstop Manny Machado, Brach can be a free agent at season’s end.
“I feel a little bit more of a buzz in the clubhouse,” Brach said. “Guys know that we’re trying to win this year. Not that we’re not every year, but especially this year. I’m not really thinking about next year and free agency too much because if you do that, if you’re playing for that, it’s going to be really difficult.”
That attitude is what Showalter appreciates about Brach.
“He likes to win,” Showalter said. “You don’t ever feel like it’s ‘I need to get people out so I can get a four-year contract. This is what people are counting on me to do.’”
NOTES: OF/DH Mark Trumbo did not make the trip to Jupiter for the Orioles’ game with St. Louis on Thursday. Trumbo, who had missed a week with a strained right quad, felt discomfort after playing Wednesday and has been sent for an MRI. ... 1B Chris Davis remains out with a sore right elbow. He hasn’t played since March 2, but Showalter said that it’s too soon to consider him as a candidate for the 10-disabled list to start the season. “I still have confidence that we can get this behind us and get enough at-bats to be ready,” Showalter said. “We’re not there yet. Could get there, but I’m hoping it doesn’t happen.”
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