There’s been talk over the last few days about MLB potentially holding off on cutting down the rosters to 28 players due to so many teams having to stop their seasons because of COVID-19. That is scheduled to happen today, and the league decided to follow through with that deadline. However, MLB and the MLBPA did agree on a season-long extension to the rosters. After today, all rosters will be 28 players and remain that way for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs.
Following agreement with @MLB_PLAYERS and approval by @MLB Clubs, 28-player rosters will remain in place from tomorrow through end of 2020 season, including the Postseason. Doubleheaders will allow a 29th player, and taxi squads may increase from 3 to 5.
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) August 6, 2020
This will help several teams, like the Marlins and Cardinals, who have barely played any games this year, but long-term, this ruling benefits the Braves as much anyone.
The Braves have a glaring weakness, and it’s their starting rotation, especially after Mike Soroka went down for the remainder of the season. Cole Hamels is also on the 45-day IL; Mike Foltynewicz was DFA’d after just one start, and none of their young arms have yet to show any consistency. Max Fried’s the only starter they can count on for a quality outing every five days, but the Braves do have something working for them when it comes to their pitching staff — the bullpen.
On their current active roster, the Braves don’t have a single reliever with an ERA above 2.45, which is even more insane when you realize the bullpen has recorded significantly more innings than the starting rotation. AND this is without arguably their best relief piece, Will Smith, who is nearing a return after testing positive for the coronavirus before the season. It’s possible the Braves add him to the roster in the coming days.
Now, this type of success isn’t sustainable, but it is evident Atlanta has one of, if not, the best bullpen in the majors, which can go a long way in covering up for abysmal starting pitching. With 28-man rosters for the rest of the season, Brian Snitker and Alex Anthopoulos can manipulate the roster throughout the year, giving the team the best chance to win by using piggybacks and possibly the bullpen for the entirety of some games.
The extra players will also help the Braves lineup, which is extremely versatile when fully healthy. Of course, the loss of Ozzie Albies and Matt Adams is limiting them a bit right now, but they should be back in 2-3 weeks if everything goes to plan. This ruling also might renew the Braves interest in Yasiel Puig. Assuming he’s close to testing negative or has already, the Braves lineup — which has been fantastic thus far — could use another long-term boost, especially with Albies and Adams on the IL. A couple of extra roster spots for the remainder of the season increases the likelihood of Anthopoulos renewing those negotiations and strengthening the Braves offense even more.
Extending the rosters to 28 players for the remainder of the season will be significant in the Braves quest for a third consecutive NL East title. If there’s one thing Atlanta still has working for them, it’s depth. It won’t be easy to overcome their poor starting pitching, but a deep bullpen and versatile lineup might just be enough to put them over the top.
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