The Mets’ bullpen was whole Tuesday for the first time this season.
Brad Brach’s activation from the injured list provided team officials with the bullpen composition they envisioned before summer camp began, loaded with experienced high-upside arms.
Brach, who had been sidelined after contracting the coronavirus before the start of camp, joined Robert Gsellman and Jared Hughes as veterans who have returned from the IL to join the bullpen mix since the season began.
“I don’t know if I would have made a difference at all, but you always think that as a reliever,” Brach said before the Mets faced the Nationals at Citi Field.
Brach, who returned to the Mets last offseason on a one-year contract worth $850,000 after arriving last August, spent two weeks quarantined in a hotel room in July after intake testing produced a positive result for the coronavirus. Brach experienced symptoms, sidelining him from the totality of camp.
“There’s certain nights when you are sitting in a hotel room and you feel something in your chest and it’s not normal, even though I felt like I had a cold,” Brach said. “You just know there are underlying problems that can come and arise. I wasn’t necessarily scared, but you understand it can be a life-threatening illness.”
The IL stint was the first of Brach’s 10-year major league career. His hope was he would need only two or three outings at the Mets’ alternate training site in Brooklyn to prepare for the season, but the process took longer than he expected.
“I’m glad I threw as much as I did when I was home [during baseball’s shutdown], because I think that helped me come back a little quicker,” said Brach, a Freehold, N.J., native who attended Monmouth.
“I’m just hopeful that I can come in here and really help this team win. You know, we need to win some ballgames here, and I have been watching a lot of them.”
In 16 appearances for the Mets last season, the right-hander pitched to a 3.68 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. It came after a mostly underwhelming season for the Cubs, who released him in August.
“He is another guy with experience throwing late in games, he’s good matching up against righties, obviously really dominant,” manager Luis Rojas said. “But he’s got that changeup for lefties, too. Definitely can come in during the middle of an inning there and face [anybody], and we’ll look for a spot we can use them.”
Gsellman rejoined the Mets last weekend and pitched for the first time in almost a year, after missing summer camp with strained triceps. Hughes was activated 1 ½ weeks ago after also testing positive for the coronavirus before the start of camp.
Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Dellin Betances, Justin Wilson and Seth Lugo are the other key members of the bullpen.
“I am glad Brad is back here with us,” Rojas said. “He adds more experience to a season like this as a guy who can come in right away and attack, get batters out.”