KC Royals: 3 relievers who may not survive the week

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(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals, Brad Brach
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Can one game seal the fate of a veteran trying to catch on with the KC Royals?

Forgive any Kansas City fans who didn’t recognize Brad Brach’s name when the club signed him to a minor league deal late last month. The details of his most notable exposure to the Royals, a brief appearance for Baltimore in Game 2 of the 2014 ALCS, are likely lost in the memory of the swift four-game work KC made of the Orioles.

Kansas City had a slim 4-3 lead when Brach replaced Bud Norris with Lorenzo Cai at first and one out in the fifth. Cain immediately stole second and Brach walked Eric Hosmer before retiring Billy Butler on a fly and striking out Alex Gordon. He gave up only a single in the sixth, then departed after issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh.

What Kansas City sees in Brach, a 10-year big league veteran, is what he was in Baltimore. He went 27-15 with a 2.99 ERA and 32 saves in five seasons and struck out nearly 10 every nine innings. He was good for the Braves after a 2018 trade deadline deal (the Braves gave Baltimore international slot money), but struggled in a 2019 season split between the Cubs and Mets (5-4, 5.47, 5.1 BB9) and another campaign last year with the Mets (1-0, 5.84, 14 walks in 12.1 innings).

Until Tuesday, Brach looked like the Baltimore Brach. He’d pitched three scoreless innings for KC, striking out two and surrendering only a hit.

But nothing Brach did Tuesday against Seattle worked, and his ugly outing may have changed everything. He gave up a single, a walk and a pair of two-run homers before getting an out. Then, two straight singles and a run-scoring double finished him for the day. Although starter Brad Keller gave up six runs, the five and six hits the Mariners collected from Brach could be too much for him to overcome after his subpar 2019 and 2020 campaigns and record of control issues.