Potential Braves 29-Man Roster

Photo of Felix Hernandez courtesy of @slmsolo via Twitter

With rumors swirling about the potential of a late May beginning to baseball and newly structured divisions of 10 teams each, with focus on location, my mind rolls back to Spring Training. There were battles going strong for 3rd base, starting pitching, and relief pitching. However, the 3 battles were not yet decided and now, it just so happens that they might not need to be. So, what could a potential Braves 29-man roster look like for a shortened 2020 season? Let’s take a look.

Potential Braves 29-Man Roster: The Locks

I’m not pulling the 29-man roster speculation completely out of my keister. It was a month back when Boob Nightengale, who’s rarely right and I’m not sure why I’m relying on his words, dropped this tweet:

Since this tweet, multiple sources have yet to confirm, but agree that 29 seems to be the number that keeps getting tossed about. It’s my opinion that 29 is likely the lowest we would see, but for this exercise we will keep the number at 29. Also, for this exercise, it’s important to note that there will likely be a need for more pitchers than position players, assuming that starting pitchers likely won’t be able to pitch more than 4 innings at the beginning of the season. With that in mind, I’m going with the roster breakdown of 16 pitchers and 13 position players…at least to begin the season.

It’s been a while so let’s take a look at the locks.

POSITION PLAYERS

THE PITCHING

TOTAL LOCKS: 22

Potential Braves 29-Man Roster: Piggybackin’

There was a pretty great battle going on in spring training for the 4th and 5th rotation spots between Sean Newcomb, Kyle Wright, and Felix Hernandez. All 3 looked sharp and deserving of the spots, but what was 2 has now become 1 as Cole Hamels is expected to be healthy come Opening Day, whenever that may be.

However, that might not be a problem. As stated above, starting pitchers are going to lack some stamina (kinda like young Rob Copenhaver) and likely won’t last much more than 3-4 innings in the first month. If that’s the case, it’d be a great time for the Braves to experiment with piggybacking starting pitchers to try to get through 6-7 innings. My thought: 4 starting pitchers, 4 piggyback pitchers.

Let’s not get into who piggybacks who for now, but here would be my 8.

Breakdown: I don’t think I’ll get much backlash from 7 of the 8 on this list, but I’m sure that some will question the inclusion of Touki. I’m convinced after watching him in spring and talking with David Lee, he’s gotten past something (likely mental), really controlled the strike zone in the spring, and his work in the offseason has moved him from raw prospect to MLB-ready pitcher. A piggybacking situation would be a great test to see if he can get MLB hitters out while going multiple innings.

*With the additions of Felix Hernandez, Kyle Wright, and Touki Toussaint, the roster now sits at 25.

Braves Relief Pitchers

With 8 of the 15 pitching slots available, this is a pretty straightforward decision for 6 of those spots (although I don’t think the Braves would hesitate to make Shane Greene available, but that’s for another time), but the one thing that the aforementioned 6 do not do is go 2+ innings. Yes, the Braves are going to need mop-up men. While last year’s choice, Josh Tomlin, makes a lot of sense for the 2 multi-inning spots, it’s important that the Braves test some of their cusp Minor League guys out, especially considering there might not be Minor League games in 2020. My gut tells me that Patrick Weigel and Phil Pfeifer, who are starters at heart, will land the jobs. They both looked extraordinary in spring and have all the makings of average to above average MLB multi-inning relievers.

Potential Braves 29-Man Roster: Position Players

While I don’t think it will be necessary and I’m not going to plan for it in this exercise, it’s at least worth mentioning that the Braves will need to carry an extra catcher to begin this shortened season. While pitchers need arm strength to extend their IPs, catchers need to also build their in-game stamina and it could mean that Flowers and d’Arnaud could use a caddy.

With the list of 11 position player locks already on the 29-Man Roster, there are 2 potential spots open for the offense. When Spring Training abruptly ended, both Austin Riley and Johan Camargo were playing out of their minds. With the idea of an uncertain MILB season and the lack of a Gwinnett shuffle, I think it’s darn near 100% that both Riley and Camargo would’ve made a 26 man roster, which means I think they’re locks for a 29.

Conclusion: A Very Well-Balanced Team

Offense

With the likely addition of a DH for the 2020 season, the Braves will have 3 left-handed hitters, 2 switch hitters, and 8 right-handed hitters, and should be able to field a top-tier lineup against LH pitching with at least a league average lineup against RH pitching.

PItching

The starting pitching is likely the least secure in terms of production as there are a lot of guys that could go very right or very wrong. Overall, I think this lot will be a league average rotation that plays up because of the deep bullpen and strong lineup.

While the bullpen is right-hand heavy, it’s deep in high end relievers that should give the Braves the chance to win on a regular basis.

Thanks for reading on the Potential Braves 29-Man Roster. If you enjoyed this and are missing a baseball fix, check out all of our Braves 2020 Spring Training Notes here!

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

50 thoughts on “Potential Braves 29-Man Roster”

  1. Curious about your slam of Nightengale. In my experience, he’s one of the best-sourced national MLB reporters out there. Why do you find him hard to trust?

  2. Continuing from the last thread, if we can have an All-
    Felony Team than we really need an All-Good-Guys Team to balance. My effort:
    1b Here I platoon Lou Gehrig and Albert Pujols. Buck O’Neil needs to be here too.
    2b Jackie, of course. Orlando Hudson also had a great reputation
    ss Ernie Banks or Ozzie Smith
    3b I could cheat and put Mel Ott here but I think I can get away with Martin Prado. Pendleton except I remember him starting a brawl with the Phillies.
    lf Musiel. Billy Sunday is a good choice as well
    cf I’m going with Dale Murphy over Kid Griffey. Fight me
    rf Hank and Clemente can’t exactly platoon but we can work something out
    c I’m not remembering too many nice guys here. Gary Carter?
    sp Christy Matthewson
    sp Al Spaulding
    sp Fergie Jenkins who I somehow left off the All-Felons which makes him very special indeed!
    sp Cole Hamels
    rp Jonny Venters
    given that most relievers are borderline sociopaths I’m not sure how many others fit here

    Who did I leave off?

  3. @1
    When it comes to trades/transactions, he’s nearly always wrong, or way late…like days late.

  4. It seems like a lot of reporters get wrong information and end up being wrong, but Twitter has decided that Nightengale will be the meme for it.

  5. Watch there be a DH for this year, Austin Riley is the perfect candidate for the job, and Snit pencils in Markakis. And Snit doesn’t understand that it’s only a 100 game season or something and he can’t play the classic Bobby move of “give the fella 40 games before you do something”.

    Great article Ryan. A roster that includes Riley at DH, Camargo at 3B, and piggybackers would be really cool.

  6. I tried to keep the list to guys like Murph who the other team would have a designated spotter for to make sure nobody tried to hit him in a melee.

  7. I might start bombarding you guys with Boob tweets. You’ve been warned. This one was from 2019…seriously.

  8. I have no opinion on Nightengale, but I agree the Twitter piling on is a strange phenomenon — I don’t know of any other baseball-adjacent presence on Twitter who engenders remotely similar ridicule.

    All nice-guy list sounds fun, with the caveat to remember the old adage that one should avoid meeting one’s heroes (exception, Murph).

    Gary Carter!?!?

  9. Eddie Perez always seemed like a great guy — but really, I think the answer is Campy.

    Okay, so, look, lots of baseball reporters have made incredibly dumb comments from an analytic perspective, because like all of us they get caught up in whatever’s happening one particular week. I remember when half of us on this blog got super-excited about Ken Ray, myself included!

    Trades are always difficult because all of the sides are either strategically leaking or strategically lying and using the media as a tool in their negotiations. Hence the Furcal rule.

    But when Nightengale writes a story about what most people in baseball are saying, I think it’s a fair representation of conventional wisdom. Like, Peanut may not be the sharpest analyst, but if he writes something, you can take it to the bank that that’s what the team is thinking at the time.

    I don’t know anything about the Twitter dogpiling because I blessedly left Twitter a couple of years ago. There’s a lot of stuff I may miss, but I sure don’t miss it.

  10. I don’t get into the dog piling…in fact, I kinda go against the norm. But Nightengale’s tweets are hysterically bad.

    Also, I follow 1500 people and have a great Twitter experience. In my opinion, you can make Twitter what you want it to be.

  11. That’s awfully strange. Certainly, he’ll be QO-eligible, but I’m guessing it’s just a massive oversight. Freeman is obviously superior to Rizzo.

  12. Always up for boosting Deacon White’s profile. Anyway, I’m sure Gary Carter was a fine fellow — he just happened (to my mind) to help usher in a particular way of televising baseball where, instead of picking up on a narrative as it develops, a focal point is predetermined and the story is told through that lens no matter what.

    I speak, of course, of the 1986 World Series and the Gary Carter Cam. I was struck by what seemed to me an obsessive focus on the reactions of a single player to the action on the field, whether it directly involved him or not. I don’t recall now if the announcers were particularly fawning (and he did have an excellent Series), but I just instinctively rebelled against the intrusiveness of this production decision. It didn’t help that Carter had been an enemy combatant for the duration of my baseball fandom.

    The Gary Carter Cam was later rechristened the Derek Jeter Cam, and perpetually resides in storage marked (with a distinct lack of subtlety) the Telegenic and Media-Savvy New York Athlete Cam, ready to be deployed as needed….

  13. Twitter is a great place for news but it’s also a 24/7 dunking contest and a receptacle for terrible political takes from all across the political spectrum. If you lean left of center, it’s much more palpable to consume all the political takes because you’ll see significantly more that you happen to agree with. But the dunking contest and the lack of maturity that goes together with Twitter is what makes it a difficult platform. Yes, you can prune and carefully craft your 1,500 followers, but you have to go through so much headache to get there.

    I follow 4 main groups of people: Braves Twitter, Gator Twitter, James Bond Twitter, and a bunch of people that do crypto and stock day- and swing-trading. I find the Gator, Bond, and investment people to be really pleasant on the whole, and for whatever reason, Braves Twitter is largely a cesspool. And I didn’t think that it was fair to categorize this group of people simply by their common interest, but it’s definitely a thing: Braves Twitter, for the most part, sucks. I’ll be a Patreon supporter here until the place has cobwebs if it helps keep it alive. Really appreciate the people who keep this place going, of course and especially Ryan.

  14. For me, the thing about Braves Twitter is basically the same thing as the rest of the internet — the older I get, the older I get.

  15. It probably has something to do with baseball as a whole; what sport has such an internal feud based on two different methods of evaluation? Basketball, maybe? Certainly not football, and especially college football. Too much noise in the numbers. Baseball + uncivilized people on Twitter = bad conversation

  16. @21
    There’s a large chunk of people that ignite those feuds and it’s quite a simple solution: Don’t follow them. I also go to Twitter for one thing: Braves baseball. Discussing politics with people you don’t know online is a boat to nowhere and more often than not ends in anger and someone using all caps.

    I just did an experiment. I jumped on my TL and scrolled until I reached a political tweet. It was the 45th tweet from the top…and it wasn’t even someone I follow or a RT of someone I follow, rather a follower of mine had liked a tweet and it showed up (which is an absurd algorithm by Twitter). Choose who you follow wisely and be heavy on the mute button if you need to be.

  17. The problem is the platform. If you’re on a Facebook group about the Braves, then you often have some kind of moderator (which is very helpful), and there’s a natural guiding process to the discussion. After all, it’s a Braves group. If a guy in that group is a supporter of ::insert your least favorite political figure::, then you won’t know that since you’re not “friends” with him, and only his discussion about the Braves is visible. If you’re on Braves Journal, and I started telling everyone how stupid the fella in the White House or the Governor’s Mansion is, then, well, there’d be a problem.

    Not Twitter. If you follow, say, Craig Calcaterra, you don’t just get his articles about baseball; you get allllll of Craig Calcaterra. And in my opinion, it’s not pretty. Multiple that by hundreds of people. You have Johnny Braves Stats, and not only do you get Braves stats, but you get Johnny’s thoughts on why he thinks your governor is an idiot for ::insert coronavirus action::. And even worse, Johnny might have a bit of an emotional problem, and not only does Johnny not like your governor, but sometimes he’ll tell you that you’re stupid and you want people to die (wut?) if you think that your governor/mayor/HOA president is making the right call.

    And guess what happens when you tell Johnny either (nicer version) that you enjoy him for his Braves stats or (meaner version) he’s very inaccurate on his hairbrain political takes? The response ranges from (less frequently) an intelligent debate on the merits of his post, to an argument (not a discussion), or he’ll give you the ole “derp, derp, if you don’t like it, unfollow me”. In rare occasions, Johnny Braves Stats will flat out block you if you — with no personal attacks, profanity, or insulting his mother — dare disagree that your HOA president or governor made an incorrect ::insert coronavirus action::.

    Twitter acknowledges this, and says, “just mute ::insert hot button word::”. Well, what if you don’t want to avoid any discussion on this topic? For instance, there was a, ahem, discussion about certain behaviors before NFL games began a couple years back. And there were lots of Tom, Dick, and Harry’s that were Atlanta Braves fans also happen to be Atlanta Falcons fans, and believe me, there are opinions. So, you mute “NFL”, and now you can’t hear anything mentioning the words “NFL”. Twitter acknowledges that their platform makes it impossible to remove Johnny COVID Thoughts from Johnny Braves Stats.

    I dunno, I’m just bored. We need baseball back.

  18. With a 29-man roster, other than the last guy or 2 in the pen there really aren’t any hard choices — you get Riley and Camargo, Hech and Mini-Dans. Tandem starters would actually be a huge plus for us as we go 7/8 deep without Ian Anderson or Muller.

  19. Now are we going to get more comments on the All-Nice team or do I need to get poetical on y’all.

  20. @28–the first three are as obvious as Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, but as to the Teddy Roosevelt of Braves Mt Rushmore, reasonable minds may differ. I’d go with Niekro, since his impact on the first half of ATL Braves history is greater than any one player in the last 25 years.

    Or If you’re willing to be creative, you could go with the three headed monster of Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz for the fourth head.

    God, I miss real baseball.

  21. Aaron is a clear #1 with a bullet. I think it makes sense for Chipper to be #2, unless it’s possible to have the Big Three as a three-headed monster. I would prefer to just declare non-players to be ineligible. But no matter how you slice it, there doesn’t appear to be any way to get Dale Murphy or Andruw Jones on the mountain, and that’s awfully hard to swallow.

    So how about an Atlanta Braves Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, instead? Wikipedia identifies 71 people on the cover. I think we’ve easily identified the first 10:

    1) Henry
    2) Chipper
    3-5) The Big Three
    6) Knucksie
    7) Cox
    8) JS
    9) Andruw
    10) Murph

    So, who goes in slots 11 through 71?

  22. Tfloyd is right on the money. The 4th spot belongs to our holy startimg trio of Glavine, Maddox, Smoltz.

  23. Would you just decide which of Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz you would say was the better Brave? That would immediately put Maddux out. He didn’t begin his career with the Braves, and he pitched for more teams other than the Braves. I know it’s unpopular, but for me, Maddux is less of a Brave than the other two.

    It definitely helps that both Smoltz and Glavine have worked in the booth with Atlanta. But Smoltz is a national guy now, so that’s a ding against him. But Smoltz pitched less seasons outside of Atlanta, though Glavine did come back to pitch his final season with Atlanta. It’s really close between those two, and I’d probably put Smoltz’ recovery from injury and subsequent role as a closer as a quality for him that he overcame more to be successful as a positive. And I like power pitchers vs. soft-tossing lefties, so I’d probably go with Smoltz.

  24. If you’re an fWAR fan, Greg Maddux put up a 72.7 fWAR in a Braves uniform, Smoltz 78.5, and Glavine 54.7. Nod goes to Smoltz especially if you add in postseason performance and that he only pitched 78 innings in a different uniform. Maddux spent about half his career with other teams.

    Hank, Chipper, Smoltz, Bobby.

  25. Nice. I think I’m going with Smoltz.

    It gets very interesting when you try to decide the 4th-best 90’s-now pitcher, which the 44 Greatest Braves essentially attempted to do.

  26. @29 I love watching videos of the quiz pitch. he’s one of the guys I watched most when I first went sidearm/submarine

  27. I’m not conceding that my man Knucksie loses the fourth spot to any one of the Big Three. I know it was my idea, but considering the trio in combination is really not fair. The three headed monster is far and away the GOAT.

    I’m still thinking about the other 61 ATL Braves for the Sgt Pepper cover. The ones on the album weren’t necessarily the greatest folks, but they were all interesting for one reason or another. No true wankers, though; Hitler and Stalin didn’t make it.

  28. Yeah, I think if forced to pick which between the big three is more of an essential Brave, it’s clearly Smoltz…just based on the fact that he spent the entire useful portion of his career with the Braves whereas Maddux came up with the Cubs and Glavine went to the Mets. That’s not to denigrate either of them, I love them both, it’s just a fact.

    As far as the fourth-best Braves pitcher in what I’ll call the modern era (’91 and after), I think you’re basically looking at Steve Avery vs. Tim Hudson. Hudson probably gets the overall nod, but Avery won a World Series game in ’95 and the NLCS MVP in ’91, so YMMV. Avery was never the best starter on the team, though, whereas Hudson was, as was Kevin Millwood for a year, if you wanna go there.

  29. Here’s a start. This is entirely off the top of my head, without looking at the 44 Greatest or baseball reference. I’m sure I’ve forgotten several obvious folks. I steered away from one year wonders (with one or two exceptions).

    Alou, Carty, Torre, Millan, Cepeda, Reed, Boyer, Garr, Baker, Evans, D Johnson, Capra, Garber, Horner, Hubbard, Gant, Blauser, Lemke, Justice, Nixon, Avery, McGriff, Lopez, Klesko, Neagle, Millwood, Wohlers, Galarraga, Furcal, Giles, Ortiz, Sheffield, McCann, Hudson, Prado, Hanson, Medlen, Venters, O’Flaherty, Kimbrell, Heyward, Freeman, Simmons, El Oso Blanco, Markakis, Ronald, Ozzie, Soroka, Donaldson

    Nonplayers: Turner, Scheuerholz, Bill Lucas, Anthopolous, Snitker, Milo, Ernie, Skip, Pete, Sutton, Jim Powell.

  30. According to Wiki, John Lennon wanted Hitler on there, which I think tells you more about his sense of humor than his politics, but it seems that other heads prevailed.

    Tfloyd, you did a serious day’s work there!

    Gotta say, Russ Ortiz isn’t doing anything for me on there. How about Julio Franco?

  31. Agree completely about Ortiz. What was I thinking?! And Franco makes a lot of sense—good and very interesting.

  32. @TFloyd:

    I think Lonnie Smith has to be on that list. Had one of the best seasons in Braves history and followed it up with a 4 WAR year.

    @Rushmore talk
    Also, of the big 3, Smoltz was the only Brave that wore a Braves uniform for the entire streak.

  33. Ryan–Agree about Lonnie “Skates” Smith. I guess I was swayed by his baserunning blunder in the World Weries against the Twins–but that should not be disqualifying.

  34. I owe Skates the same apology, I’d completely forgotten how huge he was in ’89 and ’90.

    I think TP probably oughta be on there too, especially if Sheffield is.

  35. Of course TP belongs there. As I said, I was doing this off the top of my head and knew I’d forget someone obvious. But it’s embarrassing to forget one of the few MVP winners.

  36. Well…an attorney that lives right down the rode from me and is a complete troll of a human is taking to our beaches wearing a grim reaper costume because he thinks it’s too early to open them. There’s a part of me that agrees with him, but that’s not how you do it, and it doesn’t help that he’s a complete asshat.

  37. @41. I’m sure Murphy is just an oversight. And if you are going to include Donaldson’s one season as qualifying then JD Drew had an even better one.

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