The MLB lockout has finally ended, meaning we can finally start talking about actual baseball. Things are going to happen quickly. Free agency has already begun, and players can begin to report to Spring Training as early as today. Within a matter of days, actual baseball will be played, and Opening Day is less than a month away.
It seemed like it would never happen, but we are here, so I wanted to preview some of the battles that will take place during this shortened Spring Training. As things currently stand, the Braves roster is nowhere close to being complete. Signings and trades will change some of these competitions. I’ll begin with the rotation competition, which should be one of the most heated competitions in Spring Training, especially if the Braves choose to add to the group.
The Braves have one of the best rotations at the top. Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Charlie Morton can hold a candle to anyone, but after that, nothing is clear-cut. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because the Braves have a plethora of young arms that could fill the two vacancies.
I still think the bullpen could be where Ynoa serves for most of his career. His high fastball and slider combination was made for a relief role. With that being said, the Braves clearly believe he has the potential to be a starting pitcher, and he performed well in the role last season. If Ynoa ever develops a reliable third pitch, watch out. I like his chances to begin 2022 in the starting rotation.
My personal favorite of the bunch, Wright has had several chances to permanently etch his name into the rotation for years now but hasn’t panned out in the majors thus far. However, I do expect that to change this year. His stuff is simply too good not to figure it out, and it looked like he turned the corner during last year’s postseason. If I had to bet money on a young arm to break out this season, it would be Wright. However, if he doesn’t, it could be one of his last opportunities with the organization.
Davidson has dominated the upper levels of the minors, which earned him a promotion to the majors early last season, where he was equally as impressive. Unfortunately, an arm injury cut his season short, but he did appear again in the World Series of all circumstances because of the injury to Charlie Morton. That just shows how much faith the organization has in Davidson. His stuff may not be the sexiest of the bunch, but the young man simply knows how to get people out.
Muller is another player that had some success in the majors last season and performed well in AAA as well. Given his upside, he could be a staple in the Braves rotation for a long time, and that tenure could begin as soon as this season.
In my mind, Toussaint is a long shot to carve out a rotation spot, but his stuff is good enough that he could dazzle everyone and earn an opportunity. Still, I think if Toussaint wants to make the 26-man roster out of Spring Training, it will be in a bullpen role.
The Braves have been linked to starting pitchers this offseason, and I expect that to continue now that the lockout has ended. I find it hard to believe they will shell out serious cash for a top-flight rotation piece, but I do believe they will add another piece before the start of the season. Most likely, it will be a veteran on a short-term deal, but I could also see them being in the trade market if they want to upgrade.
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