One of the bigger holes in the Angels’ MLB roster is the lack of consistent, season long bullpen relief. It’s a bit of a double-edged blade as the Angels starters are consistently struggling to go deep into games, which sees the bullpen get called in too early and become exposed and overworked. Is the bullpen bad because the starting rotation is bad and they’re doing them no favors, or is the bullpen just naturally mediocre? Either way, the Angels’ bullpen has been shown to have gaping holes that prevent the team from maintaining leads and staying in games time after time. This season is going to be an interesting one, as the team has brought in some help during the offseason with pitchers like Raisel Iglesias and Aaron Slegers, while shedding six different relievers (Keynan Middleton, Cam Bedrosian, Hoby Milner, Justin Anderson, Matt Andriese, Hansel Robles). So far there is no easy-to-point-to, blow away talent leading the relief charge. The Angels aren’t exactly hiding any secret weapons up their sleeve, but what they do have is promising oncoming talent from the minor leagues that could help the bullpen in a big way. Not by providing big “ace reliever” outings, but by showing up and proving to be solid and reliable arms through and through. One of those incoming pitchers is the team’s 7th-round draft pick back in 2017, right-handed pitcher Denny Brady.
Denny Brady had his best season in the Angels organization back in 2019, his last professionally-recorded season thanks to the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, and in that season he pitched 76.2 innings at High-A and recorded an ERA of 3.64 with 86 strikeouts and 25 walks across those innings. Seven of his seventeen appearances in 2019 came out of the bullpen, and in those seven appearances he pitched three innings or more in all but one of them. His longest bullpen outing was a 4.2-inning relief appearance in an extra-inning affair, and while he was saddled with the loss after allowing one earned run, he did strike out six and walk none on 75 pitches. In his each of his two longest starts he logged a total of six innings, and he came away with a win in one of those appearances (2 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks), although the other start which resulted in a no-decision saw him log 11 Ks and just one walk while giving up just one hit the entire game, the hit being a two-run homerun in the 5th inning. The point to be made here is that Brady has an arm that can be relied upon in a variety of situations, whether it becomes the need for a spot starter or a multi-inning relief appearance (as is usually needed with the Angels).
While Brady is getting most of his work as a starter, that isn’t to say he is totally pegged for a starting role in the majors. Though he does bring a quiet reliability with his presence, his actual stuff lends more towards a relief role than a spot in the rotation. His fastball, while effective due to his spotting ability and strike-zone consistency, tends to play in the lower-to-mid 90’s range, topping out at 96 mph. Working off of his fastball, Brady runs with a curve/changeup offspeed mix that plays well on hitters working out of either side of the box. His feel for his offspeed is on point and he is able to play with the spin of his pitches to give different looks to hitters. All in all, these run well with his fastball thanks to Brady’s ability to place them in suitable locations and consistently change eye levels and speed, missing bats at a professional pace.
While he does lack an obvious “out” pitch, his entire arsenal is well-defined enough across the board to allow Brady to work his all his stuff in tandem to produce outs. He isn’t going to be lighting up the radar gun, but he will be keeping hitters on their toes for each and every pitch with his consistency and intellectual approach to getting outs. Denny Brady has the makeup of a middle-inning, multi-inning reliever that can singlehandedly bridge the gap between the starter and the closing crew if need be. His ability to throw up to 80 pitches in a single appearance offers quite a bit of versatility in how he can be used, and that in itself will offer great opportunity when it comes to securing MLB work. Despite the lack of professional innings in 2020, Brady managed to find ways to improve his overall game, which you can see in his recent Spring Training outing against the Cincinatti Reds, in which he pitched 1.1 innings and secured three strikeouts.
Denny Brady might not be a flashy pitcher, but his ability to consistently work the zone and mix up his pitches is as professional as it comes. At the end of the day, what keeps a guy pitching in the MLB isn’t how hard he can throw, but how well. Just because you aren’t hitting 99mph and throwing Clayton Kershaw-esque curveballs doesn’t mean you can’t be a standout pitcher for a ballclub. Denny Brady has all the makings of a pitcher who can quietly and efficiently get outs on contact and on strikeouts, and can be employed in a variety of situations to add flexibility to a roster. Need a few relief innings eaten up to give other guys a chance to rest? Denny Brady. Need a spot starter to cover a short-term injury? Denny Brady. Looking for someone to keep you alive in an extra-inning affair and you don’t want to burn your closer or setup man too soon? Denny Brady.
I have little doubt in my mind that Brady will be making a name for himself amongst the Angels fanbase, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up a favorite among fans. He has the looks of a Southern California guy even though he was drafted out of New Jersey, and his humble but firm presence makes him easy to cheer for; I would say this guy is an Angel if I’ve ever seen one. He should be getting his looks closer to the end of 2021 with the pace he is on, but by mid 2022 I would fully expect to see Brady finding steady ground in MLB.
MLB ETA 2021