The Atlanta Braves are having a good year. Heck, they're in a virtual tie for first place in the National League East. They're hitting well, they're pitching pretty well, and they're playing good defense. But as hardcore fans of the team -- as most Talking Choppers reading this are -- we will almost always find something to complain about, and the most obvious target this season has been reliever Chad Durbin. But are our gripes about Durbin warranted?
It might be one thing if Durbin was a rarely used seventh member of the bullpen, but he's not. Durbin has been used in more games than any other Braves reliever -- appearing in 14 of Atlanta's 31 games. The results have been ... not-so-good.
Durbin's 8.25 ERA ranks as the third highest among NL relievers with at least five appearances. He's giving up walks at an alarming rate, and he's gotten hit harder than any other reliever on the Braves despite a very low BABIP -- much of that is due to the team leading (tied) five home runs he's given up. He has the worst fWAR on the team.
So even with all of this, naturally the Braves manager sees nothing wrong. Here is what Fredi Gonzalez said when asked about turning to Durbin in a close game Monday night:
"He’s fine," Gonzalez said. "He fits in that role. Obviously if it’s a one-run game or a tied game, somebody else would have pitched there. But in that role he fits.
"He’s come up with some big outs for us, some big innings."
So if it's a one-run game it would have been imperative to keep it close, but in a two-run game just throw in your scrub. Durbin is clearly the worst reliever in the Atlanta bullpen. He's been used way too much in close games where the Braves were trailing, and he's let the other team add on.
There are better options in the Atlanta system, specifically Cory Gearrin at triple-A. Heck, just about every reliever at triple-A would be better than Durbin! In fact, the total number of home runs that all Gwinnett Braves relievers have given up at triple-A this year (4) is less than the total number of home runs that Durbin has surrendered (5).
Please Frank Wren, replace this weak link on the Braves roster.