The bullpen was one of the biggest strengths for the Atlanta Braves in 2020 and they took advantage of having an expanded 28-man roster by loading up on relief arms throughout the season. A player like Grant Dayton was able to stick on the active roster for most of the season since the Braves weren’t forced to juggle in fresh relief arms all that often. It also allowed them to pick and choose their spots for Dayton who finished with a solid but unspectacular season.
What went right in 2020?
Dayton appeared in 18 games and posted a 2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings. He maintained a 27.4% strikeout rate while posting an ERA- of 51. He didn’t see a lot of opportunities to work exclusively against lefties but he did well limiting them to a .121/.216/.182 line in a small sample.
What went wrong?
While Dayton’s 2.30 ERA looks good, his 4.07 FIP and 5.06 xFIP tell a slightly different story. His walk rate increased to 9.4% while his ground ball rate dropped. For the most part, Atlanta avoided using Dayton in higher leverage situations and he was mostly cast in long relief or mop up duty. One of those situations came in the postseason where he replaced Kyle Wright in the first inning of Game 3 and got lit up allowing eight hits and eight runs over two innings.
What to expect in 2021
Dayton will be in his second year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. He and the Braves avoided arbitration last offseason agreeing on a $655,000 deal. He is projected to receive a modest raise through arbitration but will not have a lot of leverage. It is very likely that should the Braves elect to tender him a contract that they give him a take it or leave it offer to return. Even with some departures in the bullpen, Dayton is still a guy that rounds out the roster and is not likely to play a big part in the bullpen.