What a difference a year makes. Nobody knew who Ryan Brasier was a year ago, as the hard-throwing righty spent all of 2017 pitching in Japan before signing a minor league deal. However, Brasier dominated in Pawtucket before coming up to the majors and settling in as the third arm in the Red Sox bullpen. Scouts everywhere have to wonder how they missed this guy, as he has everything one would want in a late-inning reliever. With Craig Kimbrel likely gone, Braiser is battling Matt Barnes for the closer role. Can Brasier continue his 2018 success and become Boston’s closer?
Boston Red Sox 2019 Preview: Ryan Brasier
Ryan Brasier was a second-half savior for
Brasier struck out a serviceable 7.75 batters per nine innings but boasted an impressive 1.87 BB/9. The rest of the Red Sox bullpen struggled with command, but Brasier was able to consistently find the strike zone and get batters out. Additionally, batters didn’t do much against Brasier when they actually put the ball in play. During his time in the majors, Brasier finished the year with a good-but-not-great 40% ground ball rate.
Brasier threw one of the better fastballs in the Red Sox bullpen with an average velocity of 96.9 miles per hour. By comparison, Craig Kimbrel had an average fastball velocity of 97.2 miles per hour. Brasier could certainly bring the heat, and could even hit triple digits when he really needed to. He complemented this selection with a plus slider which possessed ideal movement. His raw numbers suggest he can remain a good pitcher, and his stuff certainly makes him a major league commodity.
What To Work On
Ryan Brasier was excellent by just about every account in 2018. While he had some favorable batted ball luck, he still did just about everything you’d want out of a reliever. All of Brasier’s underlying statistics suggest he can be a good reliever in 2019, and he didn’t have any notable flaw in his game. If he keeps this up, there’s really nothing else for him to work on.
The biggest thing Brasier needs to do is prove that 2018 wasn’t a one-year fluke. As great as he was, 2018 was also his first year in the majors since 2013. Plenty of players are capable of going on hot streaks, and Brasier will need to prove that he can pitch at a high level for the entirety of a major league season. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know which Ryan Braiser is the real one until the 2019 season actually starts.
Steamer Projections expects Brasier to come back to Earth in 2019. The projection website thinks Brasier will conclude the 2019 season with a 3.94 ERA and a 3.99 FIP. Additionally, Steamer expects his K/9 to improve to
Quite frankly, it’s hard to understand why Steamer is this low on Brasier. He doesn’t have the longest track record, but Brasier showed the ability to be a late-inning arm whenever he was on the mound. While he probably won’t reproduce his 1.60 ERA, expecting him to jump up to a 3.94 ERA is pure lunacy.
While his ERA projection is questionable, his walk rate is even worse. Brasier doesn’t have the largest major league track record, but he does have 594.2 innings of minor league work under his belt. During that sample, Brasier walked 1.74 batters per nine innings. It’s natural to expect Brasier’s walk rate to somewhat increase against higher competition. However, expecting him to walk an extra batter per nine innings is completely unfounded.
Will 2019 Ryan Brasier be as good as 2018 Ryan Brasier? Probably not. However, Brasier should still pitch like a solid late-inning arm. He has a great fastball-slider combination and has proven capable of handling the biggest moments. He won’t be the best closer or setup man in the league, but he should be a lot better than what Steamer is projecting.
Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com
(Oct. 25, 2018 – Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America)
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