Red Sox reliever Ryan Brasier: Where did he come from?
Since the Boston Red Sox called up Ryan Brasier on July 8, he has quickly become a crucial part to the Red Sox bullpen. However, where did he come from?
A few weeks ago, on August 5, I was watching as the Boston Red Sox were facing off against the New York Yankees. After David Price allowed the first two Yankees of the seventh inning to reach, Heath Hembree was called upon to pitch and promptly walked Shane Robinson to load the bases with no outs. One thing lead to another and all of a sudden the Yankees had taken a 3-1 lead and seemed primed for more with runners on second and third with only one out.
That was when Alex Cora made a change and brought in Ryan Brasier. Brasier, allowed a sacrifice fly to Gleyber Torres but got out of the jam. The Red Sox would eventually come back and win the game in extra innings.
When Cora made the pitching change, two thoughts came to my mind. The first was that it was a rough outing for Hembree. The second thought was: who is Ryan Brasier and where did he come from?
Brasier is a 30-year-old right-handed reliever out of Weatherford College, a community college in Weatherford, Texas. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2007 first-year player draft by the Los Angeles Angels.
Armed with a high 90’s fastball, good slider, and firm, mid-90’s sinker, Brasier reached the majors on May 2, 2013, against the Baltimore Orioles. In that outing he surrendered two runs over one inning of work. He made one more appearance for the Angels (also against the Orioles) before being sent down.
The Angels recalled Brasier that September and he was good for the club by not surrendering a run over his final six appearances (including the second appearance in May). He finished 2013 with an ERA of 2.00 over 9 innings of work in 7 appearances but until this season, he had not pitched in the majors since.
In spring training of 2014, Brasier suffered a right elbow strain and missed the entirety of the season.
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In 2015, he signed a minor league contract and played in the Oakland Athletics organization. Despite pitching to a solid 3.56 ERA with 70 strikeouts over 60.2 innings for Triple-A Nashville during the 2016 season, Oakland released him in December of 2016. Brasier ended up signing in Japan with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japan Central League where he pitched to a 3.00 ERA over 30 innings.
His impressive repertoire and solid performance caught the attention of the Red Sox who signed Brasier to a minor league contract. Boston assigned Brasier to Triple-A Pawtucket out of spring training where he pitched to an impressive 1.34 ERA while striking out 40 batters over 40.1 innings.
The Red Sox selected his contract and added him to the 40-man roster on July 8 and since then he has been a very important piece to the Red Sox bullpen with a minuscule 0.90 ERA and 0.75 WHIP with 18 strikeouts in 20.0 innings.
Since getting called up to the Red Sox, Brasier has earned Cora’s trust and has become an important piece to a bullpen that lost Carson Smith to injury, has lost trust in Joe Kelly and has leaned far too heavily on Matt Barnes and the aforementioned Hembree.
The combination of Brasier and Tyler Thornburg have helped solidify the bullpen and Cora has four or five (depending on what you think about Kelly) different very good options to chose from to bridge the gap to Craig Kimbrel or to just keep the Red Sox in ballgames.