Unacceptable. Subpar. Intolerable. These are all adjectives that reflect the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen this season. Coming into this season it looked like Atlanta’s bullpen would be a strongpoint, but this has been far from the case. The young bullpen has yet to put it together, and Atlanta needs to find a solution fast. The Braves should have swept the Arizona Diamondbacks. Period. But the bullpen failed to hold two huge leads in two consecutive games. Enough is enough. This is my opinion, the fanbase’s opinion, and apparently the front office’s opinion. According to David O’ Brien, the Braves are trying to make moves to bolster their bullpen:
#Braves are trying to trade for reliever(s), but won't give up young talent or pay big $ to do it.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) June 4, 2015
Will the Braves be able to get their hands on reliable bullpen help this season? Absolutely. Unfortunately, it likely won’t be any time soon. Relievers are easy to come by around the trade deadline, but with the season still young, many teams are still hoping to compete this season, therefore less willing to give up quality arms at the moment. By the time the market opens up, the Braves will have Andrew McKirahan and Arodys Vizcaino returning from suspensions. They will also have Chris Withrow recovered from Tommy John Surgery. But the Braves need help NOW. So what can the Braves do? Are they out of options? Not necessarily. But they need upgrades, that’s for sure. Since moving to the bullpen, Trevor Cahill has an ERA of 6.55 which is actually an IMPROVEMENT from his starting splits! Hitters have hit .304 against him since joining the bullpen! Cut the cord, Atlanta. Nick Masset was a decent add for the bullpen since the team gave up nothing to get him, but he has not been effective as a Brave. His .324 average against when with Miami suggests that he was a time bomb waiting to go off. However, I will defend youngsters Cody Martin and Brandon Cunniff. Were they partially responsible for the abysmal pitching performance by the bullpen on the West Coast? Absolutely, and they’ll be the first to tell you that. But these are two rookies that have had some success with a few rough outings. The problem is that Atlanta’s bullpen is not deep, and they are throwing these youngsters out there in pressure situations. This being said, Atlanta needs to look to add experienced relievers. Let’s take a look at some realistic options as of now:
David Carpenter was designated by assignment by the Yankees to make room for Masahiro Tanaka’s return on Wednesday. Carpenter was traded to the Yankees alongside southpaw Chasen Shreve for prospect Manny Banuelos. While he struggled to a 4.82 ERA in the Bronx so far this season, Carpenter compiled a 2.63 ERA in his two seasons with the Braves. His best work without a doubt has come at the aid of Roger McDowell. With a salary of just $1.28 million, this should be manageable for Atlanta, and I think they’ll be a strong suitor. With the Braves boasting the worst bullpen ERA in the league (4.71) they NEED to roll the dice on Carpenter and hope he can return to form under our pitching coach.
Another former Brave, Peter Moylan was supposed to just serve as a pitcher-coach for the Danville Braves this season. However, coming off his second Tommy John surgery, apparently Moylan was simply pitching too well in extended Spring Training for Danville. He was sent to AAA Gwinnett, where he made his first appearance Wednesday night. He will likely need a little more time to find his groove, but if the Aussie can have half the success he had in our bullpen in past years, he absolutely deserves a shot at cracking this bullpen. He had a career 2.59 ERA as a Brave over 7 injury plagued seasons.
Dana Eveland is a guy the Braves need to take a serious look at. He pitched well for the Mets in 2014, posting a 2.63 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and a 2.0 BB/9 in 30 games. This kind of success in the NL East is a great selling point for Atlanta. Eveland just opted out of his minors deal with the Red Sox, where he put together a 1.54 ERA for AAA Pawtucket. He is also a lefty, but of a strange breed, much like James Russell. He has had more success against righties than lefties, but the numbers are pretty close. Us DFAing Russell is looking pretty stupid right now, as he is killing it back with the Cubs. Last season Eveland was effective against both sides. Get on it Atlanta.
Look, these options are far from the perfect, but the numbers don’t lie. The Braves have the worst bullpen in baseball. They need to make moves. They need a shakeup. Fast.