The last few innings of a Spring Training game are, for the most part, meaningless fodder. Players getting their work in are usually not even in contention for roster spots and are called up from minor league camps or are players in camp to protect the arms already on the team.
One such player for the Braves is left-handed pitcher Yohan Flande. The thing that sticks out in his case, however, is the fact that he has yet to allow an earned run in 10.2 innings. Flande signed with the Braves prior to the 2010 season and is currently not on the 40-man roster. Before that Flande was in the Philadelphia organization for six years. He is 26 years old and has never been a top prospect. Flande spent his first season in AAA last year and was a reliever for 14 of his 33 appearances. He was 8-8 with a 4.01 ERA. He had 104 strikeouts in 137 innings.
Appearing in relief over the Spring, Flande seems to have a small chance to crack the opening day bullpen for the Braves, and if he doesn’t, he could be high up on the recall list should injuries or lack of production happen. Currently, the Braves are slated to have two left-handed players in the bullpen – Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty. Assuming the other spots go to Kris Medlen, Craig Kimbrel and Cory Gearrin, it leaves two spots for Flande,
Jairo Asencio*, Anthony Varvaro, Robert Fish and Cristhian Martinez (Peter Moylan as well, but he is currently injured.) The problem for Flande is that Asencio and Martinez have no options remaining and would have to go through waivers in order to be sent to AAA. Only Martinez and Asencio have pitched more out of the bullpen this year than Flande. The only pitchers to have pitched more than Flande in all of baseball with no earned runs are Matt Maloney from Minnesota and Luis Perez in Toronto who have done it in 11.1 innings.
Flande has appeared in seven games this Spring and has only allowed one unearned run in that action with a 2-0 record. He has struck out eight batters but does have six walks as well.
Left-handed pitchers always have more stick-potential than their right handed counterparts but the fact that the Braves already have two strong left handers may play against him but it also may play in his favour. I am sure that Fredi Gonzalez will want to be more careful with the big three’s innings this year. If that is the case, a third lefty might not be such a bad idea to throw out there in low-leverage situations or to give the other two a rest.
The Braves currently have five spots on their 40-man roster. Assuming one will go to Drew Sutton, it appears that Flande has done enough to earn a spot on the extended roster as well and, although he was way down on the depth chart when Spring Training began, may have pitched himself significantly higher on it. Even if Andrelton Simmons or Jordan Parraz make the team it still leaves enough room for Flande (and one is to assume that Arodys Vizcaino will open up another spot if (when) he is placed on the 60-day DL.)
Flande was not a noteworthy addition, but another example of the dearth of pitching the Braves have at their disposal.
*UPDATED 11:13am: The Braves announced today that Asencio has been traded to the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations.