Can Orioles send another non-closer reliever to All-Star Game?

If Orioles right-handed reliever Darren O’Day made the All-Star game last year as a non-closer out of the bullpen, can Brad Brach do the same this year?

After his latest 1-2-3 inning last night, Brach has a scoreless streak that has reached 10 2/3 consecutive innings. Brach’s 2016 season is quite comparable right now to O’Day’s 2015 first half.

O’Day in 2015: 5-0 with 1.07 ERA, .156 average against, 0.802 WHIP, 12.0 strikeouts/nine innings
Brach in 2016: 5-0 with 0.88 ERA, .176 average against, 0.880 WHIP, 10.0 strikeouts/nine innings

Brach seems to feel it might be a little early for All-Star Game talk right now.

Brach-Memorial-Day-Camo.jpg“It is still like a month away,” he said this afternoon. “I just want to keep pitching like I’ve been pitching. When it comes time for the All-Star team to come out, if I am lucky enough to be on that list, then I will be. But still a lot of baseball left and just want to keep it going.

“Darren last year proved that if you pitch well enough they are willing to put you on the team. But it is not something I am thinking much about.”

Brach struck out the side in the eighth inning last night, getting the top of the Kansas City order. He got Alcides Escobar looking at a 96 mph fastball, then fanned Whit Merrifield on an 88 mph changeup and Lorenzo Cain on a changeup at 87 mph.

The changeup remains a very big pitch for him and last night it had a little more on the radar gun than usual.

“I’ve thrown it that hard on occasion,” Brach said. “Last night, it was a little bit faster. I like it to be usually in the 85-86 (mph) range, but for whatever reason it was a little bit faster than normal.

“It has been huge the last two years. I think that has been the biggest difference - being able to throw that in any count. It has made my fastball better and you want to keep it down in the zone, which is a good thing.”

The Orioles bullpen continues to be among baseball’s best. Kansas City leads the major leagues in bullpen ERA at 2.67 and the Orioles are next at 2.73. Right now, the Orioles are trying to carry on while O’Day is on the disabled list.

“Everyone has to step up,” Brach said. “Everyone may have to move up an inning or two. If you pitched the sixth or the seventh before, you might have to pitch the seventh and eighth now. It is big any time you lose an All-Star like Darren that you can pick up the slack.”

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