Josh Tomlin does not require a significant amount of commentary. Tomlin has been with us for 3 seasons now, if you can believe it. It started out fine. His 3.74 ERA across 79 IP in 2019, predominantly in mop-up duty, was a breath of fresh air from someone we were paying no money. But then a 4.76 ERA in 2020 and 6.57 ERA in 2021 meant that he really wasn’t fulfilling his role any further.
We can debate it, and it’s a great debate, but I think Tomlin had a really effective role: eat innings in white flag situations to save your bullpen. I fall on the side that it has tremendous roster construction value to have a rubber arm that can come in and get you to the end of the game. Unfortunately, the debate became quite moot when Tomlin could no longer effectively do that. Assuming his usage was identical, Tomlin successfully finished 41% of the games he entered in 2019. In 2021, he only finished 17% of the games in which he entered. If you look at the game logs, he was used as the next man after a starter got bombed quite a bit, so his usage was not identical. But it does appear there were quite a few games where the goal was for him to finish out a lost cause game, and he just couldn’t do it. So in that regard, he failed in that role.
He also had another role that I think can be overstated but was important: he appears to have been a strong mentor to a young staff. He’s well-liked by the team, it appears, and having a 36-year old grown-up out in the pen probably had a lot of value. Especially over the last 3 seasons, I think he’s had tremendous surplus value, and clearly the Braves agreed, keeping him on the roster once it was clear his professional skills had eroded. Hopefully there’s another fella like Tomlin ready to take on this role in the pen going forward.
I like him, he’s a good guy, and hopefully we have a spot for him in the org.