One place where the Braves could use some fortification is the bullpen. With top-tier relievers Johnny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty out for the season, the Braves’ bullpen has been surprisingly resilient. The likes of Luis Avilan, Luis Ayala, David Carpenter, Anthony Varvaro and especially Jordan Walden have posted remarkable numbers, making the Braves’ pen once again one of the best in baseball.
That being said, it is likely that GM Frank Wren will be looking to buy a solid arm to bolster the bullpen ranks. A left-handed reliever would be ideal, but they come at a much higher price and as of now, none appear to be on the market.
One interesting option is Chicago White Sox’ Jesse Crain.
Crain went down with a right elbow strain on July 3. Reports have him possibly returning to the active roster before the trade deadline. Before being placed on the disabled list, Crain – who was named to the AL All-Star team – posted incredible numbers: 0.74 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 46 SO to 11 BB in 36.2 innings pitched.
Adding Crain to the bullpen would be a huge plus for the Braves, alleviating some of the added weight that has recently been placed on Walden’s shoulders.
Another area where the Braves could use some help is at the leadoff spot. Jordan Schafer has been a revelation off the bench this year, completely redefining his career, and Jose Constanza has once again proven effective in what little playing time he has gotten.
Schafer could well blossom into a prototypical leadoff hitter, but he isn’t likely to be given the chance with B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward, and Justin Upton manning the outfield. If the Braves are going to look for a true leadoff bat, it will have to be at a position other than outfield.
And as much as this would help the team, it isn’t likely to happen. Injuries notwithstanding, the Braves’ starting lineup is fairly well set in stone.