For Silvino Bracho, 2022 was a typical nomadic experience that many journeyman relievers experience every year. While Bracho may not have offered much value to the Braves at the major league level, he did at least appear in multiple MLB games for the first time since 2018, which was a personal boon for the right-hander.
The Braves acquired Bracho on June 30, 2022 from the Boston Red Sox for cash considerations. At the time, the move was made to add organizational bullpen depth after Kenley Jansen was put on the Injured List. Prior to joining the Red Sox organization ahead of the 2022 season on a minor league deal, Bracho had appeared in 92 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks as a reliever between 2015-2020, and pitched in the Giants minor leagues in 2021.
What were the expectations?
Considering that Bracho had appeared in only one MLB game (in 2020, at that) since 2018 coming into 2022, not much was expected of him at the MLB level. Both Boston and Atlanta acquired him as minor league relief depth. Once the Braves began to experience bullpen attrition, Bracho was acquired from the Red Sox as organizational depth but also fill in as a bullpen option if needed.
Between Boston and Atlanta, Bracho had plenty of success in the minors. In 57 1⁄3 innings across 38 appearances, Bracho posted a 2.67 ERA, an FIP in the high 2.00s, and an xFIP in the high 3.00s, while striking out 70 batters and yielding only 10 walks. His control certainly was an area of improvement from previous years.
Bracho actually did fill in on two separate occasions in the majors, totaling three appearances for the Braves in 2022. One was at the beginning of July and the other two were in the final series of the season against the Marlins. Overall, Bracho pitched 4 1⁄3 innings for Atlanta and produced a 8.65 ERA to go along with four strikeouts and zero walks. Bracho did not allow a run in his first two appearances before allowing three in the final game of the season for the Braves. While he only allowed three hits to the 18 batters he faced, all three of the hits resulted in runs due to two of hits being home runs.
His final line in those three appearances: 151 ERA-, 218 FIP-, 109 xFIP-, a horrid xERA, and -0.1 fWAR. That’s probably about what you’d expect for a low-leverage, up-and-down arm, though giving up two homers in 18 batters is really rough.
What went right? What went wrong?
With such a small sample size, nothing really went right or wrong from a process perspective, though a 4.15 HR/9 is rarely a case of something going right for a pitcher.
From a component pieces perspective, Bracho is kind of interesting as a three-pitch reliever whose main secondary is a changeup. What’s a lot less interesting is that his secondaries don’t really do anything, and the changeup tends to just float over the plate and get crushed. He also doesn’t throw his fastball hard, so he’s a bit of an oddball in a sea of hard-throwing fastball-slider one-inning guys. While there might be something for him to unlock if he can actually get some real movement on his changeup, he definitely didn’t do that in his age-29 season and it’s not clear whether he ever will.
Bracho’s overall performance is likely what was to be expected for a veteran minor league reliever. On the one hand, he did appear in multiple MLB games for the first time since 2018. On the other, he certainly struggled in his final appearance of the season. The highlight of his season was probably a perfect inning of relief against the Marlins on October 3, which included his first strikeout in a Braves uniform.
Here’s him striking out Bryan de la Cruz in that meaningless October 5 game, his highest WPA play of the year:
This was actually the first of two times that Bracho struck de la Cruz out in this game; the problem was that he allowed two homers in between those strikeouts. Here’s one of those homers:
On 11/18/2022, at the MLB non-tender deadline, Bracho was not tendered a contract by the Braves and became a free agent. The outlook for Bracho’s career likely remains similar to what it has been over the past few seasons, as he will likely need to settle on finding an opportunity with a franchise in Spring Training. He will likely then once again be minor league relief depth for a franchise in 2023 (whether or not that is the Braves remans to be seen).