The Reds announced Monday that they’ve designated veteran right-handed reliever Brad Brach for assignment in order to open a spot on the roster for infielder Kyle Farmer, who has been reinstated from the paternity list.
Brach, 35, joined the Reds earlier this year on a minor league pact and got out to a brilliant start with his new club. Through his first 20 innings in Cincinnati, Brach pitched to a 2.25 ERA with a strong 28.6 percent strikeout rate and a hefty 54.9 percent ground-ball rate. His 10.7 percent walk rate was a bit worse than league average but far from egregious.
It’s been a swift decline for Brach since that time, however. Over his past 15 appearances he’s managed only 10 innings and yielded 16 earned runs on 17 hits and nine walks with nine strikeouts (16.4 percent strikeout and walk rate alike). Brach missed nearly a month with a shoulder impingement along the way, which surely played no small part in his downfall after that hot start.
Brach was one of the game’s steadier setup men during his 2012-18 peak with the Padres and the Orioles. In 449 innings during that time, he logged a 3.05 ERA, fanned more than a quarter of the batters he faced (at a time when the league-wide strikeout rate was lower than it presently is) and averaged fewer than a homer allowed per nine innings pitched (0.92 HR/9) — no small feat given that five of those seasons were spent calling Oriole Park at Camden Yards his home stadium.
Brach has since spent time with the Cubs, Mets and Reds — in addition to a minor league deal with the Royals this past spring. He pitched quite well down the stretch for the ’19 Mets and parlayed that into a 2020 return to Queens, but he was hit hard in 12 1/3 innings last year. The consistency he once enjoyed has begun to elude him, but Brach’s work prior to the shoulder injury this season suggests he’s still a capable reliever when he’s right.
The Reds will place Brach on outright waivers or release waivers in the coming days, and any club will be able to claim him for the final few weeks of the regular season. He’s a free agent at the end of the year.