Every team is looking for ways to improve their roster wherever they can. The Atlanta Braves are no different. Even with a solid record and holding first place in the NL East, the Braves still need one more addition to their pitching staff.
Atlanta’s struggles in the month of May are mainly due to mediocre pitching. The offense is on pace to score more runs than in April, and with Brian McCann back they shouldn’t miss a beat. Meanwhile in May the rotation and bullpen have allowed nearly half the runs they did in all of April. Basically, the hitters have more room for error because their hot and cold streaks should balance out. The pitching staff does not really have that luxury.
Every season has ups and downs, and regression to the mean should be expected from the Braves’ impressive April, but I think Atlanta could use one more piece. One more solid cog. Who that is on whether they’ll be in the rotation or bullpen has yet to be seen. It could be Brandon Beachy, who hopes to return from Tommy John surgery in late June or July. It could be Cristhian Martinez who is currently on the 15 day DL. Or more likely, it could be a pitcher acquired via trade or free agency.
Atlanta has developed a reputation for being able to discover new pitchers or get good production from older ones. They know how to evaluate pitchers, so much so that some teams are wary to trade for their pitchers. If the Braves are dumping a pitcher, he could very well be heading downhill for his new team.
A recent example of the Braves’ great work is Eric O’Flaherty. After being knocked around in 2008, while pitching for the Seattle Mariners, O’Flaherty was cut and then got picked up by Atlanta at the end of the season. This seemingly minor move turned out to be a gem for the Braves. After they helped O’Flaherty develop his slider to go with an already good sinker, the lefty became one of Atlanta’s most solid relievers. He soon became the Braves’ primary setup man after the struggles and now injury of Jonny Venters.
It’s time for Atlanta to work its magic. Frank Wren left a bit of cap space free this offseason in order to possibly acquire someone at the trade deadline. He may need to use that space for a pitcher to plug into the rotation or bullpen. Luis Ayala is not that guy, let’s try again and get it right.
With the Washington Nationals playing better and already demonstrated strength of the National League, the Braves need one more pitching piece for long term success. Without it they may be destined for the Wild Card Game, and no Braves fan wants to relive that nightmare again.