Believe it or not, this is not an article about prospects. This is about the Braves becoming more competitive right now.
Though the unit has garnered some steam, the Braves’ bullpen still only ranks 21st in the majors in bullpen ERA. However, they are just days away from getting back perhaps their most talented relief pitcher in Mauricio Cabrera. Not long ago, this fireballer was the team’s rawest prospect. His velocity has only been matched by the likes of Aroldis Chapman, and touches 103-104 miles per hour. Though solid, Jim Johnson and Arodys Vizcaino have not done enough to permanently cement their positions. If Cabrera can bring down his walk rate a notch this season, he has a shot at becoming the Braves closer, and with his fastball, perhaps a household name. You can’t teach that.
The Braves’ offense has been scorching, so it is on the bullpen guys to hold these leads late in games. Cabrera will be a nice addition.
Yes, Ryan Howard has been unspectacular at AAA Gwinnett. However, he can still change the outcome of a game with one swing of the bat, and will give the Braves an advantage against American League teams. It is reasonable to question whether he has anything left in the tank, but then ask yourself: Emilio Bonifacio has a roster spot over this guy? It is also worth mentioning that he did not get the luxury of participating in Spring Training this season, though he did have a short stint in extended spring training. With two backup outfielder options in Lane Adams and Jace Peterson, it is likely just a matter of time before Howard suits up in a Braves uniform.
The Braves are stuck in a logjam in the National League East, with the Nationals pulling away from everyone. If the team’s bats can keep doing what they are doing, this could be a Wild Card team if things work in the team’s favor.