SAN DIEGO -- Brad Brach, 26, is quietly emerging as a very reliable middle-relief option. He's striking out more than a batter per inning (39 K's in 33 1/3 innings) and has held opponents scoreless in 24 of 33 outings.
The 6-foot-6 righty is particularly stingy with men on base, having allowed just two of the 25 runners he's inherited to score. That's a miniscule 8 percent of his inherited runners finding their way to the plate -- good for the fourth-best mark in the Majors.
"I try not to think about it. I just want to save the runs for the guys you come in for," Brach said. "You never want to give up another guy's runs -- it's always worse than giving up your own."
And although Brach has done a good job of getting out of jams in his first season of significant big league action, it's a role he's still learning to play.
"In the Minors ... I was always closing. It's a nice role to have, but you're not going to come up here and close right away," he said. "So I'm getting used to coming in with men on base. I know if it's the fifth, sixth, seventh inning and there's guys on, I have a shot to go in. I'm getting used to that."
The product of Monmouth University in New Jersey was drafted in the 42nd round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft and is one of a flurry of young relievers who have been getting chances to grow in the bullpen this season. That young cohort, combined with a core group of veterans, has provided Brach with a perfect learning environment.
"It's cool having guys like Huston [Street], and Luke [Gregerson] and Joe [Thatcher] who have been there for a while, and then having guys that are in the same position as you are," he said. "It's a really cool dynamic."
The dynamic seems to be working nicely, as Brach and the other relievers have allowed just three runs over their last 22 1/3 innings of work. They have a 1.21 ERA in that span of seven games and are holding opponents to a .149 batting average. The relief corps also has a 13 2/3-inning scoreless streak, dating back to July 14.
Brach, in particular, has a two-inning scoreless streak and has struck out eight in his last 4 2/3 innings. He pitched in both games of the series against Houston and turned in two perfect innings.