The Braves could be lining up some changes to their pitching staff over the coming months, according to a report from David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A set-up man, in particular another lefty, could be on the team’s wish list at the trade deadline.
Atlanta has not received quite the performances it was hoping for out of some of its middle relievers, as David Carpenter, Luis Avilan (the team’s primary lefty), Ian Thomas, and Gus Schlosser have all posted earned run averages of greater than four per nine. (The latter two are currently working at Triple-A.) Avilan, in particular, has scuffled (including a troubling 4.9 BB/9), and fellow southpaw Alex Wood is heading back down to Triple-A to stretch out again as a starter. The team will hope that recent call-up Shae Simmons can continue his strong start, that Jordan Walden maintains his health, and that Carpenter can regain his form. But none of those arms provide a true alternative to Avilan, and an addition could firm things up and free Wood and perhaps David Hale to work from the rotation.
O’Brien also notes that the club may consider dealing from its rotation, possibly as part of the effort to add to the pen. He says that the team could dangle either Gavin Floyd or Aaron Harang, opining that the former could be the more likely candidate. Of course, while the team does have some depth, O’Brien notes that it may be hesitant to thin the rotation ranks too much — though Wood is certainly more valuable as a starter.
Indeed, it seems like a rather unlikely outcome for Atlanta to flip a starter for relief help. Most hypothetical trade partners that would be willing to part with a quality reliever would presumably not be interested in adding a veteran on an expiring contract. Should the Braves look to add a southpaw to the pen, there appear to be a few likely sellers with decent left handed relief options that could be shopped, such as the Cubs (Wesley Wright and James Russell), Padres (Alex Torres and Troy Patton), Diamondbacks (Oliver Perez and Joe Thatcher), and Astros (Darin Downs and Tony Sipp).