Braves: With Matzek hurt, who will step up?

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With the news that Tyler Matzek will be placed on the IL comes a harsh reality. The Braves bullpen has been absolutely decimated by injuries. Matzek’s injury, combined with the injuries to Luke Jackson, Jay Jackson, and Kirby Yates, places enormous strain on what was initially a deep group. However, as long as Matzek’s issue turns out to be nothing serious, the Braves should have enough internal options to right the ship for a couple of weeks, thanks to a couple of new faces that have stepped up in a big way to begin the season. 

Other Options

We’ll be seeing a lot more of Jackson Stephens. While he’s mostly played in low-leverage situations with the game already sealed one way or another, he has been a solid reliever for Atlanta. Tyler Thornburg has been used in similar situations but hasn’t had the same success. 

Tucker Davidson has taken Matzek’s spot on the roster, but he’ll be a starter for Tuesday’s game. Davidson’s matchup against Milwaukee will go a long way in determining how long he remains with the MLB squad — Elder, Muller, Toussaint, Lee, and William Woods are all alternative options from Gwinnett.

Perhaps the most intriguing piece on the Braves is Spencer Strider. Recently, he’s been put into higher leverage situations rather than long relief, but Brian Snitker said he would’ve probably started on Tuesday had they not found out that Tyler Matzek was going to go on the Injured List.

I’d love to give Strider a shot at the rotation. He’s seemingly the best option available and has shown he can be consistently successful so far. However, the Braves may opt to hold off on making that change with Matzek out. I believe Strider could be incredibly valuable as a starter, but with several of Atlanta’s high leverage bullpen arms dropping like flies, he could me even more useful in the later innings, where he’s already proven to be comfortable. 

The good news is Alex Anthopoulos made the bullpen a priority this offseason, leaving the Braves with the deepest unit in baseball. Hopefully, Matzek’s shoulder injury is nothing serious, and he’s able to return sooner rather than later. Right now, the pitching staff is the last thing Atlanta has to worry about. Their offense has been anemic through the first six weeks of the season. Once they start scoring some runs, the wins should begin to pile up. 

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire



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