Let's Cut Zach Braddock Some Slack

If you watched last night's game, you might have noticed that Zach Braddock didn't pitch exceptionally well. He faced three batters and walked two of them before being lifted in favor of Kameron Loe.

If you read this morning's Mug, you might have seen a link to this tweet, where Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar mentioned that Braddock's fastball velocity was at an average of 87.7 mph, down from the roughly 91 he averaged in 2010. Jaymes expanded on his thoughts here, and suggested that the Brewers should consider shutting Braddock down if last night's struggles continue. 

Braddock's injury history complicates things a bit: He has a history of shoulder problems that forced him to move to the bullpen and limited him to just 111.1 innings over two minor league seasons between 2008 and 2009. When displayed over that backdrop, Braddock's velocity drop looks like a pretty significant red flag. 

After thinking about it a little more, though, I'd like to propose an alternate explanation. 

As you've likely heard by now, Braddock missed some time in camp this spring when he was stung by a scorpion. At that time, here's what Adam McCalvy said about the lefty's time in Arizona:

It’s been an uncomfortable spring for the 22-year-old. First his Cactus League debut was pushed back a couple of days by a blister, and more recently he was sidelined by a sinus infection. Braddock also spent a few days with a nasty bruise on his forehead after he bumped his head on his locker.

Braddock was still able to pitch in ten Cactus League games, but given that variety of spring training maladies I think it'd be understandable if he wasn't quite in a rhythm yet. Assuming there's no immediately apparently medical issue (i.e. pain), I'd be inclined to give him a couple more weeks to get his feet under him and see if his velocity comes back up.

It's also worth noting that Braddock still has all his options remaining, so he could be sent to AAA to work in a more reliable pattern for a while if the organization thinks that would help.

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