I probably should have had the discipline to wait a few weeks and save this for the Huascar Brazoban installment of our 2022 Marlins Season Review series. But the comp came to mind while watching Brazoban’s appearance on Wednesday, and I can’t resist expounding on it.
A non-roster invitee to Marlins spring training as a minor league free agent signing, Brazoban took several months to distinguish himself. The 32-year-old didn’t threaten to make the club’s Opening Day roster. Pitching at the Triple-A level for the first time in his career, the Dominican right-hander owned a discouraging 5.32 ERA/5.22 FIP through the end of May.
A switch flipped in the middle of his campaign. Brazoban’s swinging strike and groundball rates soared for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp as he found his niche in a multi-inning role. A deluge of injuries to Marlins pitchers in July allowed him to get his foot in the door.
The Marlins have barely anything invested in Brazoban, so he would not still be here six-plus weeks later unless he was performing. One of Miami’s few bright spots since the All-Star break, Brazoban has ridden whiffs and soft contact to good results.
Huascar Brazoban punching out Cody Bellinger in an important situation, just like everybody predicted entering this season pic.twitter.com/12g3stPJ7t— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) August 26, 2022
I sort of glossed over the fact that this is his age-32 season. He’s the second-oldest Marlin ever to make his MLB debut behind only Joe Strong. Feels like it’s been a while since Kyle Barraclough pitched here, right? And yet, Barraclough is younger than Brazoban!
Anyway, I was compelled to write about this unconventional rookie reliever because the Brazoban viewing experience is very Barraclough-esque. Despite poor control, he’s been good at run prevention thanks to nasty secondary pitches that play off his high-90s fastball velocity, outperforming ERA estimators just like Barraclough did throughout most of his Marlins tenure.
The statistical resemblance is uncanny:
- Brazoban as a Marlin: 29.5 K%, 14.7 BB%, 28.8 HardHit%, 3.8 Barrel% in 21.2 IP
- Barraclough as a Marlin: 29.8 K%, 14.3 BB%, 29.8 HardHit%, 3.5 Barrel% in 218.2 IP
The Dodgers rocked Brazoban for three earned runs in a mop-up outing last month; in all his other outings combined, he has allowed four total earned runs.
Although Brazoban has his limitations, he’s shown the potential to get timely strikeouts. He possesses an uncommonly deep pitch mix by bullpen standards wich includes plenty of four-seamers, changeups, cutters and occasional sinkers. Opponents are taking uncomfortable swings against him.
The projected 2023 Marlins bullpen is unsettled, especially now that Cody Poteet and Anthony Bender have had Tommy John surgery and Cole Sulser is struggling to rediscover his pre-injury form. Kyle Barraclough 2.0 could prove useful.
I don’t think the Marlins should be in any rush to move Brazoban, but this offseason presents a particularly challenging 40-man roster crunch for them. Four more solid weeks of production to wrap up 2022 would be huge for his job security.