Despite a disappointing series loss to the New York Mets, the Braves received more fantastic injury news leading up to the trade deadline as Kirby Yates is expected to begin his rehab assignment this weekend.
Braves reliever Kirby Yates will begin his rehab assignment Saturday, GM Alex Anthopoulos said. There's still no timetable for Mike Soroka. Yates' progress will give AA a couple of weeks to evaluate the bullpen situation before the trade deadline.
— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) July 14, 2022
Schultz also reported there is no timetable for Soroka’s return; however, he did throw a bullpen session yesterday. At this point, I think it’s highly unlikely Soroka contributes much at the major-league level this season. The hope should be that he returns and pitches for a month or two without any setbacks, setting him up to come back next season at full strength.
Yates, on the other hand, could be a critical piece to Atlanta’s bullpen. He’s essentially missed the last two seasons with injury, but when we last saw him healthy, he was an All-Star reliever for the Padres, recording 41 saves with a 15.0 K/9 over 60 appearances and finishing ninth in the NL Cy Young race. It would be foolish to expect him to return to that level right off the bat, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a more than solid middle reliever or set-up guy once he’s back to 100% healthy, which is exactly what the Braves need.
As it stands right now, Atlanta has arguably the best bullpen in baseball, and it will only be better with Kenley Jansen and Tyler Matzek in the fold. However, a team can never have enough pitching, and Kirby Yates would be a tremendous add to an already stellar unit. But if Yates doesn’t progress like the Braves hope or suffers a setback, look for Alex Anthopoulos to be in the market for a right-handed reliever as the trade deadline approaches.