The Braves starting rotation is nothing short of a disaster this season. After wondering if there would be enough spots for all the MLB ready pitchers in March the Braves now find themselves wondering if they have enough MLB caliber pitchers to fill out a starting rotation. The team will now have to employ multiple prospect pitchers, some with their first extended major league experience, to try to scrap together a competitive rotation. They will likely see a large amount of shuffling over the next few weeks and more than their fair share of bullpen games as they try to keep their heads above water as the season progresses.
The Braves now have two open spots in their pitching rotation. Which pitching prospects do you think should be first in line to take those two spots and how should they be used (openers, full starters)?
Wayne: This won’t be a well-received answer, but I don’t want to see Ian Anderson in 2020. He struggled with commanding the ball in Triple-A and hasn’t faced real hitting in quite some time. He’s a valuable arm that the Braves need to be patient with. That said, I’d like to see Bryce Wilson in an opener-type role. If he’s hot, you can let him get into the third, but a Wilson-Tomlin piggyback will get the Braves to that shutdown bullpen. I wouldn’t mind Tucker Davidson getting a chance, but he, too, would have to be ready to be yanked at the first sign of danger. I’m not sure how developed his complete arsenal is for a big-league lineup, but I also don’t want to see Sean Newcomb or Kyle Wright start another game in 2020.
Gaurav: Tucker Davidson. I’m surprised we haven’t heard more about Kyle Muller, or Ian Anderson but of the three I would want to use Tucker the most, especially as an opener. Get him through the lineup a couple of times and then lean heavily on the bullpen. The bullpen is so strong that there’s no reason to throw rookies into the mix in a short season and to ride the waves with them so if they bring up any one of the three I would personally prefer them using them each as an opener.
Aaron: The rotation is a real hot mess. They really need Cole Hamels right now. Touki gives up a bunch of hard contact, even in the games he pitched well. That scares me. With Ynoa and Wilson called up, the next two pitchers I want to see are Patrick Weigel and Tucker Davidson. There’s no reason to save these guys for next season. Weigel is 26 and Davidson is 24. They aren’t spring chickens. The best thing for this team with young struggling talent would be to piggyback pitchers. This would also save the bullpen. I’ve been saying this for years. Let them see the order no more than twice for now. Technically there’s likely enough pitchers to piggyback the 2nd through the 5th starter with the likes of Touki, Tomlin, Wright, Wilson, Weigel, Davidson, Ynoa and maybe someone like Matzek.
Matt: It is very hard to say. Any other year and it would be pretty easy to know how a player is looking. Right now the only information coming out is coming from the team or player side of things, so a long independent look isn’t possible. Has Ian adjusted to the ball and continued to make his final adjustments? What has Kyle Muller’s command looked like? Has Tucker Davidson gotten more movement on his fastball than we saw in Triple-A? We need to know those things to say those guys are ready. We don’t, so my answer is keep Max, Kyle, and Touki, start Tomlin, and use a Wilson and Ynoa combination for the fifth spot.
Eric: The easy answer here is that the first guy that can come up and consistently throw strikes has my vote, but that seems like a cheap out. Tucker Davidson being on the 40 man is an easy choice especially given how well he has pitched in the minors. If his fastball is getting some movement and he is commanding his pitches at the alternate training site, he needs to be up. If the Braves are going to have Patrick Weigel and Jasseel de la Cruz on the 40 man, they need to be willing to use them as well.
Garrett: The first person I would call up at the moment would be Tucker Davidson. While I don’t know if I think Tucker is fully ready to be a starter at the major league level the reports have all been positive and being on the 40 man gives him a leg up over others. I’m not really sold on using Ian yet, especially with the options the Braves have that are already on the 40 man roster. Between Weigel, De La Cruz, Wilson, and Ynoa the guy I would say is my preference is Weigel, but given the Braves hesitance to use him I have to question if they want him in a starting role. For now, I think the fifth spot is just going to be a bullpen/opener job which I lean towards giving to Weigel.