Braves: Who is the odd man out when Kirby Yates returns?

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In case you missed it last night, the Braves received positive news on several of their injured players, including relief pitcher Kirby Yates.

Yates has looked really good during his rehab stint thus far for the Braves, allowing just one earned run over 7.2 innings and striking out ten batters. Providing there are no setbacks, it is just a matter of time before the Braves recall him to the major-league squad, meaning someone must be removed from the current 26-man roster. Here are the most likely candidates.

Dylan Lee

This almost seems cruel. Lee is finally getting his first extended crack in the majors, and he’s thriving, pitching to the tune of a 1.61 ERA over 28 innings. Almost any other team wouldn’t even think about sending him back to Gwinnett, but the Braves have an embarrassment of riches in their bullpen, and Lee has options. Because of that, he might return to the Stripers when Yates is ready, but I think he’s done enough to force the Braves to look at other candidates.

Jackson Stephens

Just like Lee, Jackson Stephens is having a breakout year in the bullpen. Entering last night, he had a 2.52 ERA over 35.2 innings. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be on a major-league roster, but somebody has to go, and Stephens will certainly be considered. Between him and Lee, I believe Lee is the better piece long-term. However, Stephens doesn’t have any options, so if the Braves designate him for assignment, he will be gone for good. There’s no way he will clear waivers, which is why I think it’s more likely the Braves will decide to option Lee than designate Stephens for assignment.

Ian Anderson

The answer could actually become very easy depending on how Anderson pitches today. The last time we saw him against the D-backs, he carried a perfect game into the fifth inning. Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come, but I’m much more pessimistic about his outlook when it comes to the Mets. If he has another abysmal outing, the answer becomes a no-brainer. Anderson will be spending some time in Gwinnett.

Jake Odorizzi

Designating Odorizzi for assignment feels highly unlikely. They’ll probably give him at least a couple of chances in a Braves uniform to prove his worth. But if Anderson continues to turn things around and Odorizzi struggles, it won’t take much for the Braves to pull the plug on the experiment. They already have five starters, and it’s not like they gave anything up to acquire Odorizzi. Had Will Smith not been traded, it’s likely he would have been designated for assignment.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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