In a 60-game season, the Braves — or any team for that matter — don’t have time to wait for their slumping players to work out the kinks, or for their young up-and-coming prospects to turn the developmental learning curve. It’s an eat right away or be eaten world MLB teams are currently living in, and with most clubs now 1/3rd of the way through the season, it’s time to start thinking about trimming the fat. If a player hasn’t shown signs of figuring it out yet, he probably won’t after 60 games either, and even if he does, it might be too late to make a run at a postseason berth.
The Braves have already shown a willingness to part ways with players who have been integral pieces over the last few years. Mike Foltynewicz, an All-Star in 2018 that started Game 5 of last year’s NLDS, was DFA’d after just one start. And a couple of weeks later, Sean Newcomb joined him after imploding against the Phillies. Let’s see who could be next if they don’t turn things around over the next week or so.
I want to make this clear: I still have a lot of faith in Riley’s long-term outlook, but it’s fair to ask if he is giving the team the best chance to win right now. He currently has a -0.3 bWAR, thanks to an average well below the Mendoza Line (.180). Riley does have unparalleled power, and he’s shown that at times this year with his three home runs, but he’s still striking out way too much and looks lost at the plate too often. Since Riley’s been better in August (.259/.310/.519), he deserves a little more time to see if he is indeed turning a corner, but if he has one more week-long slump, it may be time to name Johan Camargo the full-time starting third baseman and send Riley to Gwinnett camp.
This one is the most obvious on this list, and I firmly believe if Ronald Acuña didn’t suffer an injury to his wrist that the Braves might have already parted ways with Inciarte. He just simply doesn’t have it with the stick, and he hasn’t had it for years now. His defense is impeccable, but how long can the Braves keep sending him out there as a starter knowing he will provide nothing offensively. It’s been time for Inciarte to find a new home, whether that be on a another team or in Gwinnett.
Because of the state of the starting rotation, Wright still probably has a couple of more opportunities to prove himself. But if he continues to struggle, the Braves might be better off finding a free agent or giving one of their other young arms an opportunity. It’s tough because Wright clearly has all the tools to be a high-quality MLB pitcher; he’s just yet to put it together. And in a 60-game season, the Braves don’t have much longer to see if Wright can do it this year.
The Braves gave Bryse Wilson a chance in relief on Tuesday for Touki Toussaint, and frankly, he didn’t look anywhere near where he needs to be to succeed at the top level. Perhaps Brian Snitker gives him a couple of more opportunities since the team is desperate for starting pitching, but he has to be much better than he was against the Yankees, or it will be a quick stint for him in Atlanta.
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