As February has transitioned into March, the 2020 regular season is slowly coming into focus on the horizon. While Braves fans have had plenty of opportunities to see new faces and prized prospects making their cases for potential big league action in 2020, more familiar names are starting to be worked into the rotation to get prepared for their supporting and featured roles either in Gwinnett or Atlanta. This week, the focus will be on seeing the Spring Debuts of a few pitchers trying to earn the last few spots in the Braves bullpen.
Bullpen health updates:— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) March 2, 2020
Jacob Webb will make his spring debut tomorrow and A.J. Minter says he'll debut on Saturday. Chris Martin may learn his debut date after throwing a live BP today.
As mentioned by Mark Bowman, Jacob Webb and A.J. Minter will be making their debuts this week. It also appears Chris Martin will be ready to go in the very near future as well. This trio of relievers arguably are the most logical options to round out the rest of the Braves bullpen, as each has had good success in Atlanta over the past two years.
Obviously, if healthy, Martin is a lock and will be relied upon as a featured setup man for the Braves. Webb had an impressive debut for the Braves in 2019 and likely will see plenty of action this year, though it may be as the first man up once the inevitable injury bug strikes Atlanta during the season. Though Minter flashed effective closing ability in 2018 and has had more major league success than any other left-handed relief option (treating Newcomb as a starter) in the Braves system besides Will Smith, his disastrous 2019 season has brought his short and long-term role into question. Without a doubt, the sooner the Braves can work these three arms into the games, the more confident they will be in finishing out their bullpen over the next several weeks.
Snitker said Hamels has been re-evaluated but there still isn't any indication when he'll be cleared to begin throwing again. Seems safe to expect the lefty to miss all of April.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) March 2, 2020
Beyond the bullpen, Brian Snitker also revealed in his talk with Bowman that the Braves will likely be without key offseason signing Cole Hamels for longer than initially expected. With the news that Hamels has not been cleared to throw and the likely length of time he and the Braves will need to trust him in the rotation, it does not seem far fetched to anticipate Hamels contributing on the same timeline that Dallas Keuchel did last year. As a result, Atlanta likely now has two rotations spots it will need to fill for a third of the season.
Snit said Kyle Wright "absolutely" has legit shot at one of the two #Braves starting-rotation openings to begin season, along with widely perceived favorites Newcomb and King Félix. Bryse Wilson also in mix, and Snit mentioned Toussaint has also looked good and is a possibility.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) March 2, 2020
Fortunately, Atlanta has plenty of options too choose from, including Felix Hernandez, Sean Newcomb, Kyle Wright, and Bryse Wilson. Though Newcomb and Hernandez have had decent springs and could have the upper hand due to their experience, the upside and spring performances of Wright and Wilson could make future decisions for Snitker and Alex Anthopoulos quite tough. Furthermore, Atlanta could always choose to bring in another talent outside the organization has decisions are made elsewhere over the next few weeks. Overall, while injuries are never ideal, having several logical rotation options to choose from as replacements is a good problem to have.
As time progresses and roster decisions are made, we here at Talking Chop will continue to keep you covered on every move as it happens.