Aaron Blair has had some ups and downs in his first stint with the Braves. Despite showing flashes of the promise that caught the eye of Atlanta when they put him in the trade that sent Shelby Miller to Arizona, he has struggled with a 7.59 ERA and just 8 strikeouts in 21.1 IP.
However, his struggles were never more apparent than against the Pirates where he failed to escape the 2nd inning and gave up 9(!) earned runs. Rather than force one of the potential future pieces of the rotation to continue to struggle in the big leagues as he hones his craft, the Braves made a change.
Roster move: RHP Aaron Blair optioned to @GwinnettBraves; RHP John Gant recalled from Gwinnett.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) May 18, 2016
The move allows Blair to staying within shouting distance of the big league club (and with Williams Perez in the rotation...there could be an opening soon if Perez struggles) while being removed from the high pressure situation of being a rookie during a rebuild that is expected to save the team every time he goes out there.
As for Gant, this seems like the thirteenth time he has been called up this year. He has proven to be versatile as a guy who can pitch out of the bullpen as well as make starts here and there. This was apparently part of the Braves rationale in bringing him back up.
The Braves optioned Aaron Blair to Gwinnett and recalled John Gant. Needed an extra reliever after Norris threw 3 IP (60 pitches) last night— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) May 18, 2016
Its possible that Gant will start in Blair's place in the rotation assuming he doesn't have to pitch much out of the bullpen. However, other candidates exist down in Gwinnett including Casey Kelly who has been largely excellent in AAA as well as Tyrell Jenkins who has long been a candidate to make his debut as a need in the rotation develops.