The Braves are a fun, young, exciting team to watch. Between the clutch and the great starting pitching, there almost isn’t anything to complain about with the team that holds the best record in the NL. However, the bullpen, which started off the season on a good note, has fallen to pieces as of late with an ERA north of 7.00 in the 9 games prior to the Yankees series.
The bug issue with the bullpen is the walks. the bullpen is walking guys at an alarming rate. Could it be that the bullpen has been worn out? Sam Freeman has pitched in basically every other game up to this point and his ERA has soared to 4.89 after a fast start this season. Shane Carle had an ERA below 1.00 just about 2 months ago and seemed to be unhittable, has hit a rough patch and seen his ERA climb to a still respectable 2.93.
Yet, for some reason, the guy who gets the most trash is probably the closer Arodys Vizacino. He has been great all season when he has been healthy and has converted 15 saves in 17 chances. He has a 1.82 ERA and averages has a K/9 rate of 10.0. He may not be a flashy name, but he (and AJ Minter) and surprise story, Jesse Biddle, have been bright spots in a bullpen that needs help.
How should the Braves go about helping their bullpen? By trade is the most talked about way and seems to be a short term fix. Zach Britton of the Orioles is a name that has been floated around the rumor mill. The price to get him may not be as high as it once was as Britton himself has had some recent struggles. Britton has an ERA of 6.23 but in just 8.2 innings. He most likely would be just a half a year rental but it all depends on what the Orioles asking price would be.
Sergio Romo of the Tampa Bay Rays is a another name to look at. Again he doesn’t have eye popping numbers, 4.59 ERA, but would bring veteran and playoff experience to the bullpen. He also would be a most likely one year rental.
If the Braves do a trade to bolster the bullpen, it is important to not overpay for a bullpen arm and risk hurting the future of this team. Which is why the Braves should also looking into their top farm system for arms to bolster the ‘pen.
The Braves weren’t projected to win a World Series, heck they weren’t even expect to be a real threat in the NL East. This young team has opened the eyes of everyone around the league so why not continue to trust your young guys and the young pitchers in the minors to help this bullpen out.
Evan Phillips, who was just recently called up nd made his debut against the Yankees, wasn’t too impressive but showed signs that he could help the team out. Phillips struck out 1 over 2 1/3 innings but did give up a cheap two run pop up homer in the 8th to Stanton. Phillips is a guy who had 58 strikeouts in just 38.2 innings in AAA this season so he is more than capable of being a good late inning guy relatively soon.
Touki Toussaint is just too good to be in AA and simply has been dominant. he has 109 strikeouts in 86 innings and has a 2.93 ERA. Yes he is a starting pitcher but that doesn’t mean he can’t provide short term help to this bullpen. It is quite the leap from AA straight to the bigs but it is definitely something the Braves need to think about with Touki.
The Braves have trusted their young guys and it has gotten them the best record in the NL. Ultimately I think the Braves do a make a trade for a bullpen guy but it won’t be one of the bigger names on the market. It will simply be for a guy that can counted on in the late innings. With the emergence of Jesse Biddle it will be hard the back end of the bullpen could be locked up with him, Minter, and Viz. Still, a veteran like Sergio Romo wouldn’t be a bad guy to have in the ‘pen to have for when of those guys is unavailable.
It’s going to come down too how much do the Braves want to put into this season and the short term future. If they choose to go into win now mode, then there will be a trade but it could actually be for a much name at a much higher price like the Reds closer, Raisel Iglesias who is quickly becoming a dominant closer. Iglesias is under contract for two more season after this one and would most likely cost a top prospect.
Whatever the Braves do, a move must be made. This team has too much talent to be losing games in the late innings. As fans, we must wait and see what Alex Anthopoulos does.
Bret Anderson: @Bret_A27