Brad Brach A Reliable Option In Cubs Bullpen

The Cubs could turn to Brach in save situations, especially early in 2019.

Bruce Levine
February 15, 2019 - 3:22 pm
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(670 The Score) With Brandon Morrow sidelined to open the 2019 season, the Cubs could open the 2019 season with a closer-by-committee approach. As manager Joe Maddon plays with he believes are the right matchups, who will it be primarily taking the ball for the ninth inning?

Pedro Strop stepped in last July when Morrow was shut down and could again fill that role. So could Brad Brach, who officially signed with the Cubs just before spring training began on a one-year deal worth $3 million with a mutual option for a second season, which could make it worth $8 million over two years.

Brach, 33, had a 3.59 ERA in 2018, which included him posting a 4.85 ERA with the Orioles before he was traded to the Braves in late July. He flourished in Atlanta with a 1.52 ERA in 27 appearances.

After signing with the Cubs, Brach has an open mind about his role.

"What I see is that hitters have a different approach against you in the ninth inning," Brach said. "In the ninth inning, you can get two strikes, but the hitter is just not willing to give up on that third strike. In the eighth inning, they are more apt to do what they were doing throughout the game. Not in the ninth. Every pitch is a battle. You have to throw your nastiest pitch every time. The adrenaline is different.

"Whatever they want me to do is fine. I know (Strop) did a great job for them last year. He has been amazing over here. When he was healthy he was great. (Steve) Cishek has tons of experience. (Brandon) Kintzler does as well. If they need me in that spot, I am more than willing to step up. I will just be looking to get outs and help the team win."

Brach was one of many free agents signed late in the offseason. There are still more than 60 viable free agents out there without big league jobs. 

Brach wasn't surprised by free agency being prolonged and also isn't happy with that development in general.

"You hear about the interest in the first week of November and then you don't get any feedback until late December or January," Brach said. "You start to wonder what is going on. Teams tell your agent they like you and then you don't get any offers. Then you finally get an offer and six or seven teams are giving you the same offer. It is kind of a weird process. No one seems to know what is going on right now. Obviously, I would have liked the experience to be a little better. I am glad to be with the Cubs now and glad it's over with for at least this year."

Brach was a bit dismayed by the offseason, even after landing with the Cubs.

"We talked to certain teams and they said you have an algorithm and this is where you fall," Brach said. "That was the scale they were using. You guys can make of it what you want to. It was kind of weird that all offers were the same and came around the same time. If you are at the top of the class, you will be fine. If you are somewhere in the middle, you are going to be hurt. That is where (MLB executives) are taking advantage of us."

While Morrow remains on the injured list for at least the first month of the regular season, Maddon will likely be forced to play the matchups. He's pleased with what Brach can bring out of the bullpen.

"His stuff really plays well when I have seen him," Maddon said. "He jumps at batters in his motion. I think he will really fit well with our group." 

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.