Dansby Swanson was expected to return to the Braves last weekend against the Reds, but a setback has caused him to miss some extra time. With a six-game lead in the division, Atlanta can take precaution with every injury, especially ones to their star players like Swanson. The shortstop did not travel to Minnesota with the team, and Brian Snitker told reporters that he will need at least one rehab game before returning to the club. Playing in Miami this weekend is not out of the realm of possibility, but regardless of when Swanson returns, a decision is looming about who will go down in his place.
The Longshot Candidate
Matt Joyce– This is highly unlikely to happen. Joyce has been the most consistent bench bat behind Charlie Culberson. He also doesn’t have an option, so he would have to consent to the demotion. At the beginning of the year, Joyce reportedly said he would be open to playing in Gwinnett, but that has probably changed given his success on the field. If the Braves can’t use him in the majors; I’m sure someone else would scoop him up.
The Ultimate Decision
Here are the two realistic candidates, and I’d be shocked if one of them was not moved to make room for Swanson. They both have options remaining and are mired in lengthy slumps.
Johan Camargo– I blamed a lot of Camargo’s early woes on the Braves and how they used him, but I can’t even do that anymore. In Swanson’s absence, Camargo has been the everyday shortstop and has watched his batting average creep closer to the Mendoza line.
The at-bats themselves look discouraging, and he’s carrying a .599 OPS on the season. The only reason the Braves might roll with him over our next candidate is because of his versatility in the field. Camargo’s a favorite of mine, but once Swanson arrives, he needs to go down to Gwinnett, get some consistent at-bats, and bust out of this abysmal slump.
Austin Riley– If you had asked me this question two weeks ago, I would have said Austin Riley is the obvious choice. Like Camargo, he was looking lost in the batter’s box and striking out in half of his at-bats. With that said, Riley has been better as of late, and it might be best for the Braves to keep him up here facing the best pitchers in the world.
Sending him back to Gwinnett will not solve his ultimate problem. He’s shown he can dominate AAA and needs plate appearances in the majors where they have the book on him. From the way he’s hit over his last few games, a breakout could be around the corner. This Atlanta offense is a different beast with him in the middle of it. They need him for a World Series push, so they could decide to keep him where he will continue to learn.