Have ya ever went to a psychic? Me either. But my wife has and here is what she found out.
At the time, she felt enlightened by the vague predictions of her future self and the vague guesses of her past self, but then she became an adult and realized it was just gift-wrapped garbage that cost her 75 bucks.
I’d like to have found that lady who, without a doubt, would have smelled of sandalwood essence, in April and ask what her prediction would be on where the 2019 Atlanta Braves bullpen would stand on the day of celebrating our country’s birth. She’d likely ask for more information, of which I’d provide because I got da stats, and surely she’d conclude by giving me what I want to hear, and that is they’ll be better than 2018. And, in her vague attempt to seduce me from my money, I’d nod my head, take a deep breath of sandalwood, say “Yeah…you’re right”, give her my 75 bucks and be on my way happy as a clam.
Well…then these things happened:
- Arodys Vizcaino had shoulder surgery after 4 games.
- A.J. Minter imploded after sitting nearly all of Spring Training out after a car crash.
- Shane Carle and Dan Winkler, 2 guys that carried the pen in early 2018, put up wretched numbers and were sent to AAA.
- Jonny Venters pitched in 9 games, had a 17.46 ERA, and was let go.
- Jesse Biddle pitched in 11.2 innings, walked 10, and got lit up like a Christmas tree, then let go.
- Darren O’Day, acquired at 2018’s trade deadline, was supposed to be healthy by season’s start and yet, hasn’t pitched an inning anywhere in 2019.
So, if you’re counting, that’s 7 guys. And if you’d have asked me in January of 2019 who would make up the Braves bullpen come Opening Day, I’d have at least had 6 of these guys on that list. No doubt, in my fictitious scenario above, I’d have been name searching that fortune teller and, prematurely, would be leaving horrible reviews on every outlet imaginable.
No one could have predicted the full meltdown of the bullpen that happened in April and early May. No one could have predicted that Luke Jackson would be the closer and be nicknamed “Sliderman” because he took an offseason trip to Driveline and relearned how to pitch. And no one would have guessed that after all the injuries, and the shuffling of players back and forth to Gwinnett, salary dump trades, and dumpster diving for scraps, that the Braves bullpen would be where it is now.
#1 in ERA in the National League.
Not only that, but their cumulative inherited runners scored percentage is league average, so they’ve been fairly effective keeping their starters ERAs low. Now, if you’re an advanced stat studier, don’t look at FIP or xFIP as it isn’t pretty, and the WHIP isn’t great, but take those with a grain of salt because all of those include numbers from these guys:
Yes, that’s 84.2 innings of horror!
So, what’s the ideal Braves bullpen? I think we are pretty close. There’s a good core there. Mix in some veterans like Josh Tomlin and Jerry Blevins, or some young flamethrowers in Huascar Ynoa and Chad Sobotka, and there could be some serious lights out nights from this bullpen. However, I think we’re in need of 1 more guy. I’m not going to make predictions on who that player is, but I know that Anthopoulos will make something happen come the trade deadline! Be excited, Braves fans!