|By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) |
[CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The Braves have won 7 of their last 10, many without our beloved Freddie Freeman, and are looking like a team that could truly hover the .500 mark until his return. Granted, over the course of this season, they’ve looked like that team several times as they’ve put up several long winning streaks, followed by several longer losing streaks. While the starting pitching has shown signs of coming around in a small sample, the real story that has broken through in a mighty way has been the bullpen. Check these season numbers out:
- Jim Johnson: 19 innings, 2.84 ERA, 9K/9, 1.42BB/9, 0.5 bWAR
- Jose Ramirez: 20.2 innings, 1.31 ERA, 7.4K/9, 2.18BB/9, 0.8 bWAR
- Arodys Vizcaino: 18.1 innings, 2.45 ERA, 10.8K/9, 2.5BB/9, 0.5 bWAR
- Jason Motte: 11.1 innings, 1.59 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 3.2BB/9, 0.4 bWAR (and hit 99 MPH last night…what?)
- Sam Freeman: 8 innings, 9K/9, 0.00 ERA, 5.6BB/9, 0.2 bWAR
That is some impressive numbers from the core 5 of the Braves bullpen. Both Motte and Freeman have something in their low (or non-existent) ERAs that make statisticians leery that their success is real, but I could see at least 4 of these 5 guys having very successful seasons should they stay healthy.
Now for the rest of the guys? The 2 others LHPs Ian Krol and Eric O’Flaherty are sporting ERAs north of 6 and are getting hit frickin’ hard. Josh Collmenter, the long man hasn’t been able to stay in long and has caused more headache than help with an ERA sitting in the mid-5s. On the contrary to the prediction above where I could see 4 of 5 of the being successful, there’s nothing good about what’s going on with these 3: high BB rates, low K rates, and getting hit hard.
*Of note, Luke Jackson is still having a hard time harnessing control as shown by his larger sample of innings at AAA, but I wouldn’t put him in the same category has the aforementioned 3. Hopefully he can find the strike zone this year and turn into a dominant reliever.
Solutions on the Farm?
So what can the Braves do? As of now, it looks like they’re going to have to be patient. Help is on the way, but not quite ready yet in terms of health. Here are a few guys to keep an eye on:
- Rex Brothers– a LHP that has a mid-90s fastball that found success is just now getting healthy again after Tommy John surgery…hip surgery…and shoulder surgery. He could most definitely help if he can just stay on the field. He’s only pitched 2 innings in the MiLB this year, but struck out 5 of 6!
- A.J. Minter– still on the mend at extending Spring Training, but I have no doubt he’ll be on the fast track once he gets back to health.
- Mauricio Cabrera– Not sure what to think about Mo-Cab. Until last year, I would’ve predicted a Juan Jaime clone. In case you cannot remember, Juan Jaime could also throw it through a barn…if he could hit it.
- Akeel Morris– Still walking a ton, but striking out a ton as well. If he can harness his control, he’ll be up as he’s already on the 40-man.
- Lucas Sims– Had a rough last outing, but he’s turned the curve in his control. Could be a smart replacement for Collmenter, and a good way to test his worth at the MLB level.
- Kris Medlen– A new delivery in-tow, if Meds can stay on the field, it’s only a matter of time before he’s back in the bigs in some capacity.
There are others, but I think the pecking order starts here, with a mix of veterans on the mend, some top-notch talent, and guys currently on the 40-man. Could be a fun season after all!