We are officially one week through the MLB’s 60-game shortened season, which is already 1/10th of the way finished. That also means by this time next week; clubs will have to trim their rosters by two players from 30 to 28. Two weeks after that, teams will have to cut another two players, creating regular 26-man rosters for the rest of the season.
The Braves have a lot of depth in both their bullpen and lineup, but some difficult decisions will have to be made in August. Here’s who is on the hot seat this week.
* I’ll be ranking them from most likely to get cut to least likely.
* I won’t be including Scott Schebler on this list, who will be replaced by Nick Markakis once he rejoins the club after opting back into the 2020 season.
*It’s also worth mentioning another reliever will lose their spot on the roster this coming week once Will Smith is activated from the COVID-19 list.
1. Grant Dayton
At this point, I’m not sure how Grant Dayton survives the first round of cuts. He made the 30-man roster because the Braves needed extra relievers since their starting pitchers were going to be on a pitch count. Atlanta was also in search of reliable left-handed relievers outside of Will Smith. After this week, starting pitchers should be pretty much fully stretched out, so the need for a bunch of extra relievers won’t be as necessary. And as far as left-handed relievers go, A.J. Minter and Tyler Matzek have proven to be better options. Dayton is almost certainly going to be one of the two players cut when the rosters trim to 28.
2. Touki Toussaint
No reason to beat around the bush; Toussaint looked dreadful in his first outing of the season. He came in for Mike Foltynewicz on Monday and allowed six earned runs in just 2.2 innings. Brian Snitker said earlier today, Toussaint will start in place of Foltynewicz tomorrow. If Toussaint delivers a solid outing, he could stick, but if he looks like he did on Monday, it very well could be his last opportunity.
3. Charlie Culberson
Most Braves fans aren’t going to want to hear this, but after the addition of Matt Adams, and with Nick Markakis coming back, it’s unlikely Charlie Culberson fits on this roster for the entire season. Even if he makes it past these first cuts, he’ll almost assuredly be on the chopping block a few weeks from now unless there are injuries or positive COVID tests. Charlie Clutch has only had two at-bats this season, and he struck out both times.
4. Tyler Matzek
If Dayton somehow survives the cut, Matzek will probably be the southpaw reliever the Braves decide to cut. However, Matzek has looked very effective in his two outings this year, tossing two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. We’d probably have to see a meltdown from him over the next week for the Braves to send him to Gwinnett camp. At the very least, he’s earned himself an extended look.
5. Jhoulys Chacin
Chacin was added just before the season and looked fantastic in his only outing, tossing 3.2 innings of shutout ball against the Mets. Because of the Braves’ current struggles in their rotation, I find it highly unlikely he is amongst the first round of cuts, but if he pitches terribly this week, the Braves might decide to move in a different direction.
6. Darren O’Day
I don’t think it’s likely that the Braves cut Darren O’Day this early in the season, but it’s possible they are comfortable with their right-handers in the bullpen and don’t feel like they need him anymore. He’d have to look pretty awful over this next week for that to happen, though.
7. A.J. Minter
Given his upside and the way he’s looked so far this season, Minter would have to implode in a couple of outings for the Braves to cut him in a week. His power arm from the left side gives him a lot more room for error than the other guys on this list.