So far, Alex Anthopoulos has only hinted at the Braves adding a left-handed bat before the trade deadline arrives, but if we’ve learned anything about AA over the last several years, it is that he never sleeps this time of year. He’s constantly working the phones in an attempt to upgrade the team, and recently, another potential hole has revealed itself.
Atlanta’s relief core, while it has been elite for most of the season, has hit some bumps in the road over the last week, recording a 4.62 ERA. Of course, their peripherals suggest they’ve been the subject of some abysmal luck. Their 2.45 xFIP over that stretch ranks first in the league. However, it’s still been rather clear for a while that an additional right-handed reliever could do this unit wonders.
#Braves bullpen ranks over past week:
ERA 4.62 (21st)
FIP 2.89 (5th)
xFIP 2.45 (1st)
K/9 12.79 (2nd)
BABIP .424 (30th)
Last night was less than fun, but it’s more of a bad stretch of luck than it is a drop off in effectiveness
— Shawn Coleman (@StatsSAC) June 27, 2022
Darren O’Day has been an elite pitcher in this league for a long time, but at 39 years old, it’s become evident that those days very well could be in the rearview mirror. He’s recorded a 4.96 ERA to go along with a 1.408 WHIP on the season.
Jackson Stephens has been a nice story, but he’s regressed towards the mean in a big way of late, recording a 7.78 ERA over his last seven appearances. Even Collin McHugh and Kenley Jansen have struggled at times. In fact, the most reliable right-handed reliever for the Braves this season has been Jesse Chavez, and who knows how much longer he can continue performing at this rate.
The promising news is the Braves do have reinforcements on the way. Mike Soroka is expected to be back after the All-Star break. He could potentially be used in a relief role, or one of the starters — like Spencer Strider or Ian Anderson — could be moved to the bullpen. Jay Jackson has also just begun his rehab assignment. It may not be long before he’s back in the majors, and Kirby Yates is expected to return at some point later in the year as well. That’s a lot of firepower potentially joining the Braves in the coming months, but I still think it would behoove Alex Anthopoulos to add at least one more right-handed arm.
I’m not a fan of moving Strider out of his role as a starting pitcher. He’s too valuable in the rotation, as we saw on Sunday night against the Dodgers, and I don’t know what to expect from Soroka or Anderson if they are moved to the bullpen. Jay Jackson doesn’t really move the needle, and Yates — while he’s been spectacular in the past — hasn’t pitched since 2019. There’s a lot of hope with these reinforcements, but there’s also a lot of bust potential. We don’t know what to expect from any of them, and while they don’t all have to pan out, adding at least two more right-handed relief arms should be a goal for the Braves. Thankfully, relief pitching can often be dirt cheap at the deadline, which is why I expect Anthopoulos to add in this area over the next month.
Photo: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire