Everyone knew it wouldn’t last, but you just had to hope that it wouldn’t end as rough as it did. Over the last two weeks, the Atlanta Braves bullpen posted 22-and-one-third scoreless innings, the longest such streak in the majors in 2017.
During the stretch, they even managed to keep opponents hitless for 15-and-one-third hitless. A truly remarkable feat for a group that features no all-stars. Atlanta’s bullpen is assembled with scraps leftover from the rebuilding process and patched together through the waiver wire. With group consisting of guys like Jason Motte, Ian Krol, Eric O’Flaherty, Arodys Vizcaino, Josh Collmenter and Jose Ramirez expectations began low.
They over-exceeded themselves over the course of their scoreless and hitless inning streak. Before the Pirates thrashed the Braves in the series finale Thursday, the bullpen blew two leads in as many days.
In the last three games since the scoreless streak, the bullpen has become a leaky sieve over it’s last 10-and-one-third innings of work. As a group they’ve given up 16 hits 13 runs, which is closer to the realistic expectation than the 22.1 scoreless & 15.1 hitless innings.
It feels like the bullpen has been playing with house money during their superb run, and the cards finally stopped falling their way. You know at some point the house money luck is going to end, you just hope you can walk away from the table with some change left in your pocket and not crawling from the table flat broke.
If the most recent results continue and the bullpen can’t find any of the magic from the streak, it may be time to tear it down and retool it with some of the young guns from triple- and double-A.
The most likely suspects ready to fill a bullpen roll:
“Big Mo” ended last season as one of my personal favorite future relievers, but started this season on the disabled list with elbow discomfort. That diagnosis for a pitcher that tops out at 105-ish mph usually combines for a Tommy John Surgery headline. But Cabrera has returned to the mound in Gwinnett this past month to work on his location. He’s been on a major league mound before, but struggled mightily with control, which explains his not-so-desirable ERA. When he’s locating the ball he can strikeout the side with ease, but when he falls behind in the count things fall apart at an exacerbating rate. If something the location turns around in favor of the big fella, the future as a setup man is bright. If not, don’t expect to see the youngster in an Atlanta uniform anytime soon.
With 146 minor league appearances in the Braves organization since 2012, Peterson has been a journeyman from rookie ball to triple-A this season and last.
At some point the Braves are going to have to test the major league waters on the 27-year-old, and now seems like the best time to do so. He’s pitching as well as ever has in his career, with the third lowest ERA of his career. The WHIP number above 1.0 is concerning, but it can’t be worse than what Collmenter tossed the other night, so the Braves might as well give him a shot.
Acquired from the Mets in the second Kelly Johnson trade last season, Morris dealt straight gas in Double-A Mississippi, giving up only two hits and two walks in 7.2 innings pitched over six games. The organization was impressed enough to promote the 25-year-old to triple-A.
Since the promotion, he’s been more hittable, giving up 11 hits over 13.2 innings of work with nine walks. It seems like there’s still work to be done before Morris gets the call to the show, but he’s someone who should get the call at some point this season.
The Promising Starters
Lucas Sims and Sean Newcomb are two names that have been at the top of the prospects list since their arrival. Both are traditional starters, and the Braves are likely keen on keeping it that way. It seems more likely that someone currently in the rotation (like Bartolo Colon) moves out of the rotation for one of the two.
But which one comes first? That you’ll have to read about in Tuesday’s monthly farm report next week.