The Braves felt they had sorted out their bullpen issues with a trio of trade-deadline acquisitions, but it hasn’t turned out that way. Jeff Schultz of The Athletic (subscription link) recently examined the situation, featuring the thoughts of GM Alex Anthopoulos.
More than anything, the Atlanta roster architect suggested, the difficulties are simply a rough section of the sample-size roller-coaster. “I just think it’s a two-week period and guys aren’t performing at their best,” he says. Anthopoulos says that the club would not “just ignore it” if a player was not performing over a longer stretch, but suggested the organization doesn’t yet feel that point has been reached.
It’d obviously be foolish for the Braves to give up on their three new relief arms — Shane Greene, Chris Martin, and Mark Melancon. Greene was solid all year long before he became the club’s key acquisition. The other two have produced sparkling K/BB and groundball numbers in Atlanta. It’s equally difficult to ignore just how rough the results have been. Through a dozen cumulative frames, each of those three hurlers has allowed more than an earned run for every inning thrown.
“We’ll continue to work and do what we can to get everybody on track,” says Anthopoulos. “But at this point, we’ll ride it out.”
As Schultz rightly notes, there isn’t much of an alternative now that the calendar has flipped to August. But the org does have a few potential avenues to get better. Waiver claims are perhaps the most promising. We’ve seen the Reds add multiple big-league pieces through that mechanism — including former Atlanta righty Kevin Gausman.
True, the Braves won’t likely land any players that look like especially good values. Should such an asset hit the wire, another pitching-needy organization with a higher waiver priority will likely snap it up. But shedding Gausman did draw down the Atlanta payroll by about $2.8MM. That bit of good fortune could theoretically allow the organization to look past value concepts and take a more aggressive waiver-wire stance, particularly since some other contenders may be tapped out financially. Whether a worthwhile opportunity will arise remains to be seen.