Braves: Cases for players on the playoff roster bubble

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Like every team heading into the playoffs, the Braves have numerous roster decisions to make between now and October 1st, and those choices have changed quite a bit with Charlie Culberson out for the remainder of the season and Johan Camargo likely to follow suit. However, the Braves are hopeful Ender Inciarte will return from his hamstring injury next week, which will help their depth tremendously. For the most part, we know the locks, but I will name them for you anyways. Then I will make my case for or against the players on the roster bubble.

Starting Pitching Locks

  1. Mike Soroka
  2. Dallas Keuchel
  3. Max Fried
  4. Mike Foltynewicz
  5. Julio Teheran

Bullpen Locks

  1. Mark Melancon
  2. Shane Greene
  3. Chris Martin
  4. Sean Newcomb
  5. Luke Jackson

Infield Locks

  1. Freddie Freeman
  2. Ozzie Albies
  3. Josh Donaldson
  4. Dansby Swanson

Outfield Locks

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr.
  2. Nick Markakis
  3. Matt Joyce

Catching Locks

  1. Brian McCann
  2. Tyler Flowers


Jerry Blevins

Ruling: On the roster 

This one is rather simple. Jerry Blevins isn’t flashy by any means, but he gets the job done against left-handed batters. On the year, lefties are hitting a miserable .164 against him. The only other southpaw the Braves have in their bullpen is Sean Newcomb, who isn’t a situational type pitcher. Even if the Braves decided to use Max Fried in a bullpen role, I still think Blevins has a place on this team as a specialist.

Grant Dayton

Ruling: Off the roster

I like Dayton, and at times, I’ve wondered why the Braves never gave him more opportunities. But at the end of the day, the sample size is too small for him to warrant a roster spot, and if the organization was that impressed with him, I don’t think he would have spent so much time in AAA.

Darren O’Day

Ruling: On the roster

This one comes down to how many pitchers the Braves want to have on the playoff roster. Last year, they had twelve. I’d be pretty shocked if they did not bring that many again. Of the remaining relievers that I did not list as a lock, O’Day has the most electric stuff. I know he’s only pitched two major league innings in 2019, but I do not trust Swarzak anymore, Tomlin’s repertoire is underwhelming, and Sobotka and Minter have not earned consideration. I’d stick with O’Day right now, but this final bullpen spot remains up in the air.

Ender Inciarte

Ruling: On the roster

As long as Ender Inciarte comes back healthy, he belongs on the playoff roster. He can serve as the backup center fielder and defensive replacement as well as a serviceable pinch hitter. However, I do believe the fact he and Matt Joyce are each left-handed could hinder his case to make it if he doesn’t look like the same player when he returns.

Billy Hamilton

Ruling: Off the roster

You could only make a case for Billy Hamilton if Ender Inciarte does not come back healthy. If that were to happen, I’d understand the Braves keeping Hamilton as a switch-hitting, defensive replacement that can steal at will. However, with Inciarte back in the fold, that seems like a longshot.

Adeiny Hechavarria

Ruling: On the roster

The Braves don’t have much of a choice here. Now that Charlie Culberson and Johan Camargo are out, Hechavarria is the only player that can backup the infield. He’s been a fantastic addition for the Braves, and they are going to need him in October.

Adam Duvall

Ruling: On the roster

The final outfield spot comes down to Adam Duvall or Austin Riley. As much as I want to put Austin Riley’s name here, he has not earned it in his return. Meanwhile, Duvall has been consistent over AAA and the majors. He slumped for a while after starting red-hot in Atlanta, but for the year, he’s batting .255 with eight home runs and a .870 OPS. Riley hasn’t been the same since June, and unless things change dramatically over these last ten games, he will likely be left off the postseason roster.

Austin Riley

Ruling: Off the roster

This does pain me to say. Riley has been a favorite of mine all year despite his struggles. But this spot comes down to him or Duvall, and Duvy has won the job to this point.

Francisco Cervelli

Ruling: On the roster

The Braves could go with just two catchers and keep a player like Austin Riley, but Cervelli is a veteran with postseason experience that plays a more valuable position. I don’t see a scenario where he is not on the final 25-man.

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