Does anyone remember the Atlanta Braves bullpen that was dominant and was the top bullpen in all of baseball? Well I do. It wasn’t that long ago, for those who remember. 2013 was a brilliant year for the bullpen, and the beginning of 2014 made us all believe the Braves were going to have a great ‘pen again. Well, we were wrong, I suppose. Or maybe the bullpen is just scuffling over the past month or so. Now, with the possible loss of David Carpenter, the Braves may find themselves in some deep trouble going into a huge series against the Washington Nationals.
The troubling part of the bullpen is the fact that, as dominant as Craig Kimbrel has been, the Braves can’t seem to get games to him with a lead. Out of all the pitchers that the Braves have used this season from the ‘pen, five of them have an ERA over 4.00 (Carpenter, Ian Thomas, Luis Avilan, Alex Wood and Gus Schlosser). Even though Schlosser and Thomas aren’t with the team anymore, the workload on guys like David Hale is getting to be way too much. Honestly, the only guy not named Kimbrel to come out of the bullpen and have a good level of success is Shae Simmons, who has only pitched in 10 games so far.
While the combination of Simmons and Kimbrel has worked pretty well since the young pitcher has been up, the injury of Jordan Walden really hurt the staff. Since his return, he has struggled at times, but his last appearance showed that maybe he is back for good. However, these three guys can’t pitch every single game. There needs to be more success coming from guys who have to pitch the 6th and 7th innings when the game is still in reach.
Due to this need, the Braves need to make a move very soon. They need another left-hander to come out of the bullpen, even if that means calling up Thomas for some more time with the club. That won’t do it all, though. The team needs to make a trade very soon to strengthen the pitching staff, or this season could be a long one for Braves fans everywhere.