CUMBERLAND — In sports, the phrase “change of scenery” is often used as a proposed elixir to fix the issues ailing an athlete.
There is no science behind it, but in the case of Atlanta Braves reliever Brad Brach, but that came July 29, when he was acquired in a trade from the Baltimore Orioles.
Brach was 1-2 with a 4.85 ERA with Baltimore, including a 10.80 ERA in the eight games before the deal. Since joining the Braves, the Freehold, New Jersey, native going into Saturday night's game had pitched four scoreless innings, with a pair of holds and five strikeouts in his four outings
General manager Alex Anthopoulos was confident that the best was yet to come this season for the 32-year-old right-hander.
“Look, he’s not having the year he’s had in the past, but we think there is some upside there based on what he’s done in the past,” Anthopoulos said the night of the trade. “He’s had some bad luck. There could be some things with his mix, some tweaks we could make to get him back to the high level he’s performed at in the past.”
Brach was 7-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 2014. Two years later, he was 10-4 with a 2.05 ERA and was named an All-Star, and he believes a new start can propel him back to that form.
“I was glad that the waiting period ended,” Brach said. “It was good to know I was going somewhere. I know where I’m going to spend the rest of the year, which is a huge burden off my mind.”
Brach noted how the Braves’ 63-50 record coming into Saturday, and being a game out of first place in the NL East, is also invigorating.
“It’s great to be on a winning team again and to go out there and pitch meaningful innings,” Brach said. “It’s a different feel. I’m getting that adrenaline rush back, and it feels terrific.”
We were able to catch up with Brach for a few questions about his life in baseball and how he grew up a fan of a specific rival team.
Your favorite youth sports memory?: “When I was 12, I went to the Cooperstown Dreams Park. It was so awesome to get the opportunity to go to the Hall of Fame. I loved walking around the museum and seeing all the old uniforms. It was a great time.”
What was the call like when you found out you were becoming a Brave?: “It was a whirlwind. I was down in the bullpen. I hadn’t thrown in five days. There was a long talk between the bullpen and (Orioles manager Buck) Showalter. I figured something had happened. Next thing I know, they were calling me in the clubhouse and they told me I was coming to Atlanta. It was fun because of the Braves being in a pennant race.”
Who did you grow up looking up to?: “David Wright, Robin Ventura and Mike Piazza when they were with the Mets."
“I didn’t like the Braves too much when I was growing up because they always beat the Mets in the playoffs. You grow up being a fan, and then you get here and realize it’s a business. But I’m here now, so it’s all love.
Favorite cheat meal?: “Pizza. I love a good pizza.”