In Arizona last night, the Atlanta Braves‘ bullpen continued to have their struggles. As a group, they pitched 3.2 innings, giving up three runs and blowing two saves. The only two relievers who left the game unscathed were rookie Shae Simmons and the left-handed Luis Avilan. While Avilan got the only batter out he faced, Simmons was much more impressive.
Actually, in the five games that he has pitched in, he’s been the best pitcher the Braves have in the bullpen that isn’t named Craig Kimbrel. While he has been quite limited, pitching just 3.1 innings since he was called up just over a week ago, he has been lights out. He’s striking out almost one batter per inning, while making himself one of only three players on the staff that have recorded a save other than Kimbrel (David Carpenter and Jordan Walden). Not only does that speak volumes about the stuff that he brings to the mound, but it also shows how confident Fredi Gonzalez is in the 23-year-old pitcher.
In Spring Training, he turned the heads of every single person that has anything to do with personnel decisions in Atlanta. He is well composed when he is on the mound, and when he gave up two hits and a walk to the Miami Marlins in his second appearance, he seemed to zone in even more and shut them down.
As a 23-year-old prospect, the Braves most likely don’t want to use him too much at the moment, with Walden and Jonny Venters set to return this summer. If they can get through this season without having to use him too much in the major leagues, he should be a part of the Opening Day roster of 2015. With his pitches, ability and attitude, he would make a tremendous setup pitcher, and if he hangs around, he may take over the closer role if Kimbrel doesn’t re-sign in four years.