Earlier, I covered the winners so far during Braves Spring training, so now it’s time to cover the losers. It’s normal for guys to struggle right out of the gate, and the sample size remains minuscule. For the most part, not much can be drawn over three weeks; however, some cases are much more concerning than others.
I thought Elder had a chance of making the Opening Day roster. That’s no longer the case after the Braves announced he and Ian Anderson were optioned to Gwinnett. Elder hasn’t looked great this Spring, but he hasn’t looked awful either, outside of his first start. I’m not surprised he won’t start the year in the rotation, but I am surprised the Braves made the decision this quickly. I thought a couple of more starts this Spring could prove beneficial.
I don’t think there’s any question about it; Ian Anderson is the biggest loser of Spring Training. Following a forgetful 2022, everyone was hopeful he was in for a bounce-back this season, featuring a new slider and some improved mechanics. The results were far from encouraging. Anderson posted a 6.17 ERA over 7.1 innings, but the box score doesn’t tell the entire story. His control was abysmal, velocity was down, and the new slider left a lot to be desired. It’s fair to wonder if we’ve already seen the best of Anderson in a Braves uniform.
I could really cite pretty much the entire Braves bullpen as losers in Spring Training. It’s been that bad, but I’ll focus on a couple of guys I’m a little more concerned with. The Braves rolled the dice when they signed Yates last offseason, hoping he would become a significant contributor to the bullpen in 2023. That still might happen, but he’s looked very bad in Spring Training, surrendering six runs in just four innings. Because the Braves have financially committed over $5 million to him, he’ll likely get an opportunity to prove himself out of the gate. But if this continues and other guys step up, his stint in Atlanta could be short-lived.
Jiménez has gotten clobbered every time he’s toed the rubber this Spring. It’s only been a few appearances, and he’s coming off back surgery, so I’m not yet hitting the panic button. However, what concerns me is the lack of velocity. He’s down a couple of miles on both his fastball and slider. That’s obviously a concern if it continues, but I’m hoping that’ll change as he gets stretched out over the next couple of weeks.
Stephens is battling for one of the final spots in the bullpen, but his first appearance of the Spring went about as poorly as possible, surrendering five earned runs and recording just one out.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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