Predicting the Braves 30-man Opening Day roster before Spring Training

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For the first month of the season, rosters will be expanded, starting with 30 players before shrinking to 28 after two weeks and then 26 two weeks after that. Primarily, this will help teams ease their pitchers into things since Spring Training 2.0 will only be three weeks, but it could also serve as an opportunity for some other roster battles to shake out. Here’s what it might look like if the regular season began tomorrow. I will also update this once Spring Training is finished.

Starting Pitchers

  1. Mike Soroka
  2. Mike Foltynewicz
  3. Max Fried
  4. Cole Hamels
  5. Sean Newcomb
  6. Felix Hernandez
  7. Kyle Wright

Now, I don’t think the Braves will have a seven-man rotation. Although it’s not totally unfathomable that all of these players receive a start in the first two weeks of the season. Regardless, all seven of these guys are starting pitchers in the organization’s eyes, and I expect them all to make the Opening Day roster, whether they serve as starters or long relievers. Eventually, the Braves will cut one or two of these guys as the rosters are trimmed down, but they will want to keep the competition for the final spot in the starting rotation open as long as possible.

Bullpen

  1. Will Smith
  2. Shane Greene
  3. Mark Melancon
  4. Chris Martin
  5. Luke Jackson
  6. Darren O’Day
  7. Josh Tomlin
  8. Touki Toussaint
  9. Patrick Weigel

The first seven guys on this list should be locks to make the Opening Day roster. The last two are young guns on the cusp of the majors that were having a fantastic Spring Training before it came to a halt. Perhaps the Braves want one more lefty, so they stick with Chris Rusin or Grant Dayton. However, if Toussaint and Weigel both pitch lights out in Spring Training 2.0, I like the odds of them starting the season with the team. The Braves should also be looking to give their younger pitchers as much development time as possible since there will be no minor league season.

Catchers

  1. Tyler Flowers
  2. Travis d’Arnaud

Nothing to see here… perhaps the Braves elect to roll with three catchers, but I don’t see that happening until the playoffs.

Infield

  1. Freddie Freeman
  2. Ozzie Albies
  3. Johan Camargo
  4. Austin Riley
  5. Dansby Swanson
  6. Adeiny Hechavarria

This list should be pretty set in stone as well. There was the possibility that Austin Riley or Johan Camargo could begin the year in AAA initially, but now that there are expanded rosters and no minor league season, they should both easily make the Opening Day 30-man. However, if one of them struggles mightily, they will probably find themselves off the roster once they are trimmed down. And since there is no minor league season, it’s going to be impossible to prove they are worth calling back up unless there is an injury.

Outfield

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr.
  2. Ender Inciarte
  3. Marcell Ozuna
  4. Adam Duvall
  5. Nick Markakis
  6. Charlie Culberson

The first five on this list don’t have much to prove in Spring Training 2.0. They should all make the Opening Day roster. However, there is the possibility Adam Duvall could opt out of the season because he is a diabetic. That would open up another spot, and the Braves could choose to add another pitcher or perhaps give Cristian Pache a taste of his first big league action until the rosters are trimmed down. With the final spot on the 30-man, I included fan-favorite Charlie Clutch. Culberson had a rough go of it at the end of last year, which was cut short because of a gruesome facial injury. He also struggled in the abbreviated Spring Training earlier this spring. However, his contributions over the last two seasons earn him the edge in the battle for one of the rosters’ final spots. 

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