Brad Brach on Turning a Corner in Baltimore

Brad Brach broke out after reaching Baltimore. Fueled by a velocity spike and a healthy dose of confidence, the 31-year-old right-hander has excelled since being acquired by the Orioles from San Diego prior to the 2014 season. In 183 relief outings, Brach has a 2.56 ERA and has allowed just 163 hits over 224.2 innings. Working primarily as a setup man, he’s been credited with 22 wins and three saves.

Brach — an All-Star for the first time last season — was treading water before coming east. A pedestrian fastball was a big reason. The Monmouth University product was barely topping 90 mph when the Padres lost faith and shipped him out in exchange for a low-level prospect. Then came spring training in a new uniform, and sage tutelage from a pair of since-departed pitching gurus.

Brach detailed his career-altering velo jump, and the I’m-coming-after-you mindset that followed, prior to yesterday’s game at Fenway Park.


Brach on how he turned a corner in 2014: “I made a mechanical adjustment that helped me gain some velocity. I straightened out on the rubber. I kind of throw across my body and, before, I was tilting way too much. I was throwing so far across my body that I was basically having to get over myself to throw to home.

Dave Wallace and Dom Chiti had me square up to the rubber, the cleats on the back side of my foot just clipping on the side, so that everything was going toward home plate. I mean, it was instantly 4 mph in one day. It was incredible how basically straightening myself out toward home plate brought my stuff back.

“I had thrown harder in 2011, and in parts of 2012, but in 2013 I lost a lot of my velocity. It wasn’t that my arm didn’t have it, but rather the mechanical thing. Again, I had started throwing more and more across my body. By the end of 2013, it was literally on one side of the rubber, and then my foot was stepping outside of the rubber on the other side. We’re talking close to 18 inches that I was closing myself off.

“It was a matter of recognizing it, then trying to figure out how to fix it. Dave and Dom were able to do that. I wish I had recognized it sooner. Had I known two years earlier, if somebody had said something to me, I probably would have fixed it and been fine. But sometimes you have to go through stuff to appreciate the good times. What happened helped me realize you have to be on your mechanics. You have to constantly be aware of what you’re doing out there, and not going through the motions.

“[The mechanical adjustment] happened around the end of spring training, in 2014. From there I went to Triple-A, and it was the hardest I’d ever thrown. My confidence just started getting higher and higher. Then, once I got called up at the beginning of May, Dave and Dom kind of challenged me to get outs on three pitches or less. They let me know that my stuff was good enough to play, even if I didn’t locate well. They told me it was good enough if I just threw it over the plate.

“Knowing I didn’t have to be as fine with my pitches was huge. The velocity obviously helped, but it was probably more mental than anything. I was confident just attacking the zone, and I’d be the first one to tell that this game is based solely on confidence. You can have the best stuff in the world, but if you’re not confident in it, you’re not going to do nearly as well. You have to be out there knowing you can do it, no matter how hard you’re throwing.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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5 years ago

It’s (morbidly) interesting as an O’s fan to hear of success stories like Brach when it comes to altering deliveries vs. the disaster story that was Jake Arrieta.