Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers: #21 Zach Braddock

Three weeks!

We’re a mere 21 days away from Opening Day! Two more weekends without regular-season baseball!

It’s warming up throughout the country and people are dreaming of summer nights spent at the ballpark.

No pun intended, but one man who spent a little too much time dreaming last season which cost him his job in the bullpen is today’s profile subject:

Zach Braddock.

There is no guarantee that William Zachary Braddock makes the 25-man roster this year.

That’s a common statement around the game of baseball in Spring Training, one which wouldn’t apply to Braddock if he had a season in 2011 like he did in 2010.

In 2010, Braddock threw 33.2 major league innings over 46 appearances. His ERA was 2.94 with an opponent batting average of .228 and 41 strikeouts. In short, he was an effective reliever both in LOOGy situations and when working more than just a single out.

During the course of the entire season, he only had two appearances where he allowed more than a single run. It was a good year.

Heading into 2011, Braddock seemed destined for another quality year. Young, left-handed with quality stuff and the ability to get both left- and right-handed hitters out… It appeared that everything was going swimmingly.

It ended up not being the case.

Braddock went north with the team and made 25 appearances through the 14th of July. The results weren’t good enough.

Over his final three appearances, Braddock only recorded two outs and allowed seven earned runs on five hits and three walks.

There was talk that Braddock had been showing up to the ballpark late, which is kind of a trick when you consider that most games are played in the evening.

Eventually, Braddock was placed on the disabled list with a sleep disorder. He was unable to get proper rest and, as such, wasn’t able to perform when on the mound.

He was sent on a rehab assignment but wasn’t ever able to get himself back to the majors last season. It cost the team down the stretch as they didn’t have a left-handed pitcher in the bullpen. Manny Parra missed the entire season as did Mitch Stetter.

Reports began to come out during the winter that Braddock finally had gotten his issues under control and was looking forward to being a healthy contributor in 2012.

A blister issue slowed him down this spring, and so far the results have been mixed but it is Spring Training. Results don’t mean as much right now, especially when coming off such a long break as Braddock has. His most recent outing saw him pitch a full inning, recording two strikeouts while allowing one hit and one walk. He allowed no runs though.

There appears to be an opening or two in the bullpen right now, but like I said at the top there is no guarantee that one of them will belong to Braddock. In fact, I’ll guess that Braddock will begin the season with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds to round himself back into form.

As far as left-handed pitchers go, Manny Parra is healthy and throwing well and non-roster invitee Juan Perez has impressed, though he is currently recovering from a partially-collapsed lung.

Braddock could still make the team by default, especially depending on the rest of the bullpen options.

Bottom line, though, is that even if he doesn’t make the 25-man roster on April 6th, chances are good that we’ll see Braddock contributing at the Major League level before the season is through.

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