We are now less than two weeks away from Opening Day, and things are beginning to get real. The Braves have continued to slash their Spring Training rosters, and fringe players are grabbing hold of potential open spots. There’s still a lot that can happen between now and the Braves’ first game of the season in Philadelphia, but let’s take a look at who has the upper hand in my second to last Opening Day roster prediction.
Once again, I don’t have any changes in this group from last week to this week. I thought Kyle Wright would take Bryse Wilson’s spot after back-to-back fantastic outings, but Wright floundered in his fourth start of the spring yesterday. Meanwhile, Wilson was nearly flawless his last time out, tossing four scoreless innings. This is likely a battle that will go down to the very end of Spring Training, and frankly, they are both deserving of being on the Opening Day roster.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. (RF)
- Ozzie Albies (2B)
- Freddie Freeman (1B)
- Marcell Ozuna (LF)
- Travis d’Arnaud (C)
- Dansby Swanson (SS)
- Austin Riley (3B)
- Cristian Pache (CF)
- Pitcher’s Spot
As I said last week, I don’t expect anything in Spring Training to affect this projected starting nine. This should be what the Opening Day lineup card looks like.
A slight change here as I went to a more traditional eight-man bullpen with a five-man bench. Seven out of eight of these relievers were on this list from last week, and I removed Victor Arano after a shaky outing. Nate Jones has been lights-out so far this spring and is definitely winning the competition over Carl Edwards Jr. and Arano for one of the final spots in the bullpen. Edwards Jr. has been decent, but his high walk-rate makes it unlikely his success continues. The eighth spot in the bullpen could go to several players, but I went with Toussaint. I also believe Newcomb, Ynoa, or Tomlin could occupy the long relief role coming out of the bullpen.
As of now, the bench roles are totally up in the air. I don’t even think Johan Camargo’s spot is guaranteed with the way Jason Kipnis and Ehire Adrianza have outperformed him so far this spring. I still give Camargo the upper hand, but he will have to show some more to be on the Opening Day roster. Jackson is probably the most likely of these five to start the year in Atlanta, but I wouldn’t totally count out William Contreras.
Ender Inciarte is included because of his contract more than anything, and the same could be said for Jake Lamb. Because Lamb is on a major-league deal, I gave him the edge over a player like Kipnis, who is on a minor-league deal. However, it won’t take much struggling for the Braves to cut ties with Lamb altogether.
The only player that is on here because of his performance this spring is Phillip Ervin. I like what he could potentially add to the Braves as a bench bat. With that being said, this is all far from set in stone. I wouldn’t be shocked if the bench looked much different come Opening Day.