This has been unbelievably frustrating. Frankly, I have no idea why the Braves even picked up Robbie Erlin in the first place after he was DFA’d by arguably the worst team in baseball. That alone should have told Alex Anthopoulos all he needed to know. But sticking with him for this long is simply mind-boggling.
In Erlin’s first appearance for the Braves on August 10th, he allowed four runs to cross the plate on three homers in just 2.2 innings. At that moment, I knew he wasn’t the answer to any of the Braves’ pitching problems and should be DFA’d. Somehow, management saw it differently and wound up starting the southpaw six days later.
Shockingly, Erlin was incredibly efficient over four innings of work against the Marlins, allowing just one baserunner and no runs while striking out five. However, that was probably the worst thing that could have happened because it’s given him a leash as long as any in Atlanta’s rotation.
Since that start, Erlin has appeared five times (four starts) and managed to give up 18 earned runs in just 16.2 innings (9.72 ERA). Incredibly, opponents’ OPS over that time is a staggering 1.056 mark. There’s no other way to put it than the guy is batting practice out there. Who cares if he can throw strikes; he can’t get guys out, and it’s embarrassing how long Anthopoulos and company have let this clown show go on for instead of giving their young arms more opportunities.
I realize Touki Toussaint and Kyle Wright have struggled to throw strikes, but at least they have the stuff to be a valuable piece come the postseason if they can put it all together. Yo-yoing them from the Gwinnett site to Atlanta for a couple of starts is a bold (and by bold, I mean foolish) strategy for developing starting pitchers.
Even when Toussaint and Wright aren’t throwing strikes, they still have had more success than Erlin, who is sporting an ERA over eight with the Braves, and if Anthopoulos is tired of watching Toussaint and Wright walk people, give one of the other highly-touted prospects an opportunity. I can guarantee you one thing: they can’t be much worse.
Unfortunately, with just 16 games left in the heat of a pennant race, it’s too late for all that. Alex Anthopoulos wasted the chance to find out if some of his young arms could figure it out in favor of Robbie Erlin. To me, there’s no other way to describe it than idiotic.
If last night’s meltdown wasn’t the final straw for Erlin, I have no words. I was surprised they didn’t announce his designation for assignment immediately after the game, and to this point today, they still haven’t. This is beyond ridiculous. There is no room for a pitcher like Erlin on a roster with championship aspirations, and I’m not even sure if he’s a major league caliber pitcher. Let’s end this god-awful experiment and cut our losses while we are still in first place.