Taking a look at the Braves bullpen after the addition of Kirby Yates

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The Braves did not really get involved in the spending frenzy that took place before the lockout, but they did add a couple of relievers the other day, signing Darren O’Day to a minor league deal and former All-StarĀ Kirby Yates to a two-year contract. Yates is coming off Tommy John surgery, so he won’t be available for the start of the season, but by August and September, I expect both of these arms to contribute to the bullpen, so what does the Braves relief core look like as things stand today?

The Night Shift

  1. Will Smith
  2. Luke Jackson
  3. Tyler Matzek
  4. A.J. Minter
  5. Kirby Yates

During the postseason, Smith, Jackson, Matzek, and Minter performed miraculously and were nicknamed “The Night Shift.” Those are the four guys that will receive the bulk of the high leverage situations at the beginning of the season, but when Yates returns healthy, I expect him to be in the mix as well. The Braves will take things slowly with him, but the last time we saw Yates healthy, he posted a 1.19 ERA and a league-leading 41 saves for the Padres. He’ll be a considerable addition to the bullpen after the trade deadline if everything goes as planned.

The Other Guys

  1. Jay Jackson
  2. Darren O’Day
  3. Dylan Lee
  4. Spencer Strider
  5. Sean Newcomb
  6. Huascar Ynoa
  7. Jacob Webb

I imagine the Braves will ride with an eight-man bullpen, so not all of these arms will make the cut, but the Braves have many high-powered options that could fill out the rest of their relief core. If Darren O’Day is healthy, I expect him to be on the Opening Day roster. I liked what I saw out of Dylan Lee in the postseason, so he will be competing for a spot. Jay Jackson was acquired by the Braves via trade the other week and could serve as a right-handed option out of the ‘pen. I don’t expect Spencer Strider to begin the season in Atlanta, but at some point, he could be a high-powered arm for Brian Snitker to use. Newcomb is out of options, so he has to make the roster if he wants to stay on the Braves. Although, I don’t think it’s likely. A wild card here is Huascar Ynoa. He’ll compete for a spot in the rotation, but I think he has the potential to be a late-inning relief option if starting pitching doesn’t work out.

The Braves may not be done adding to their bullpen. But as you can see, if they are, they should be just fine with all the talented options they have.

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