The unthinkable happened again yesterday. Jesse Biddle entered another high-pressure situation and completely crumbled, walking three batters in a row without recording a single out.
Last Tuesday, the Braves bullpen suffered a meltdown against the Diamondbacks, costing Max Fried a win. The issue – as always with the pen – walks. Nobody could throw a strike, including Jesse Biddle, who came in allowed a hit and then walked in a run.
After the game, Biddle told the media, “I was really bad. I let my team down. I had a chance to pick up Chad, and I obviously didn’t, but I can’t tell you how much I want the ball tomorrow.” He also let everyone know that it would never happen again, saying, “We’ll put the uniform on, and I can promise you we’re not going to let it happen again.”
Brian Snitker listened to Biddle and handed him the ball the next day in another high-leverage situation against the same team. Like déjà vu, Biddle walked three in the inning allowing the winning run to score as he yelled several words I can’t say here into his oversized black glove.
After a couple of clean innings in mop-up duty against the Indians, Snitker felt it was appropriate to hand Biddle the ball yesterday in another close game. This one was Biddle’s worst meltdown yet. Without recording an out, Biddle walked three, including one that resulted in a run before being pulled.
It’s plain as day that Biddle has the talent to be a major league pitcher. He finished last season with a respectable 3.11 ERA, and despite his egregious showings so far this year, he still carries a 2.38 ERA. That’s mainly because most of the runs he has walked in have been inherited and the guys behind him have been able to clean up his mess. Make no mistake about it: 2019 has been a nightmare for Biddle, and it’s about time the Braves make a decision.
Per his contract, Biddle cannot be optioned to AAA to work out the kinks. The Braves have to either stick with him or designate him for assignment. The latter would be much easier to do if the Braves had any reliable options in their bullpen to this point, but Biddle has been such a headcase, it’s challenging to defend him being on the mound in any scenarios with the game on the line. And when that happens, it’s usually time to part ways and give someone else a chance.
Fortunately, the Braves do have another arm looming in AAA. Grant Dayton, who has had success as a reliever with the Dodgers, is finally healthy and on the verge of making his major league return. The Braves acquired Dayton after the 2017 season. He had just undergone Tommy John surgery and was not going to be able to play in 2018. Now, Dayton is healthy and has appeared four times in Gwinnett, allowing three hits and one earned run, but most importantly, no walks.
With the way the Braves bullpen has panned out, there is no excuse for Dayton not to be on the major league roster sooner rather than later. The only question is whose spot is he going to take. The Braves could opt to move one of the pitchers they can send down to AAA. However, I don’t think anybody would argue with handing Biddle the axe after the way he has looked in 2019.