Tomase: Ryan Brasier's luck finally runs out in Red Sox bullpen originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Since Ryan Brasier's arrival in 2018, the Red Sox have cut, traded, designated, or failed to re-sign nearly 60 relievers. Until Sunday night, Brasier was never one of them.
That streak finally ended after a 9-1 loss to the Cardinals that saw Brasier serve up a two-run missile to Nolan Arenado. As first reported by MassLive's Chris Smith, Brasier was informed after the game that he's being designated for assignment to make room for reliever Joely Rodriguez.
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The move almost certainly brings to an end one of the more high-wire careers of any Red Sox reliever, Brasier constantly surviving bullpen purges that claimed higher-profile teammates like Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, and Brandon Workman.
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"How is he still here?" fans and media asked repeatedly, but Brasier had always shown just enough below the hood -- be it low walk rates, high fastball velocity, or a swing-and-miss slider -- that the Red Sox convinced themselves he could be fixed with just the right tinkering.
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Brasier, in fact, might be the poster child for expected outcomes trumping actual ones. Over his final five seasons, Brasier posted a 5.11 ERA, including an unsightly 7.29 ERA this year. During that same span, however, his FIP of 3.98 suggested someone pitching better than his numbers, a victim of what the analytics types file under the amorphous heading of "bad luck."
The Red Sox hoped the two numbers would one day converge, but it never happened and so they finally reached the belated conclusion that it was time for him to go.
"Walked a few guys early on, some bad luck," Brasier told Smith, as if to make the point. "A ton of (expletive) singles. This is what it is. I get it. It's a business. And luck aside, I've got to still have results to be at this level. And it just didn't work out."
Some would argue that five years of a 5.00 ERA had nothing to do with luck, but there's no questioning Brasier's value in 2018, when the unheralded former sixth-round pick of the Angels came back from two years in Japan at age 30 to fill a crucial role in Alex Cora's bullpen.
Brasier posted a 1.60 ERA in 34 games and delivered one of the most memorable moments of the playoffs, when he gestured for Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez "to get in the (expletive) box" before striking him out. He only allowed one run in nine appearances that postseason.
The rest of his Red Sox career didn't unfold nearly so neatly, though Brasier once again improbably made himself a stalwart down the stretch in 2021 despite not even debuting until September, thanks to a calf injury and a line drive that struck him in the head during a rehab appearance in Fort Myers.
Save for a quick demotion to Triple-A Worcester last year, Brasier spent virtually all of the last two seasons in the big leagues, posting an ERA of 6.16 in 88 appearances that ranked dead last among 115 qualified MLB relievers.
There's no waving away that performance as simply the product of bad luck, and so the organization made the only decision it could, thus closing the book on one of the more doggedly resilient Red Sox careers. This time, Brasier's luck finally ran out.