There are reports from at least three different sources today that echo exactly what we reported here yesterday: that the Braves are looking for bullpen help. I opined that it would be better to resolve that issue sooner than later… and clearly Frank Wren & Co. are hard at work toward that end.
But maybe that bullpen help could be found from within?
Here are four possible – and viable – options.
1. Luis Ayala. Acquired from the Orioles in mid-April thanks to a numbers crunch that they had, Ayala was great… for about a week. But now he is working his way back – currently in AAA and giving up next to nothing thus far.
2. Brandon Beachy. Set to throw a bullpen session to test his sore elbow… possibly today. Beachy is a starter, but the Braves have a really good starting five right now and there are needs elsewhere. Add that to the fact that Beachy is still early on his return from Tommy John surgery (12-1/2 months post-op), and there is sufficient reason to work him back relatively slowly. That despite the reports that the team wanted to continue thinking of him as a starter right up until the time that he developed some soreness in that repaired elbow two weeks ago. The bullpen therefore has to remain a viable option for his return.
3. Cristhian Martinez. The rubber-armed 31-year-old is coming back from his own DL-stint, having successfully gotten through two innings for the Gulf Coast League Braves. He is now getting jumped up a lot higher to continue his rehab work:
That’s certainly encouraging.
4. Juan Jaime. He can throw it close to 100 mph. He’s striking out 16 batters per 9 innings. His AA ERA is 1.23. He’s only thrown 22 innings so far. He was dumped by the Nationals after his own TJ surgery and didn’t pitch at all in 2010-2011. But the Braves signed him in 2011, and this almost-26-year-old could be the kind of guy who could bolster the Atlanta pen down the stretch.
There are no timetables out for the return of any of the first three players… that’s the ‘gotcha’ for why the Braves should continue to beat the bushes looking for additional help. But if any two of these four could be available soon (and Jaime could be promoted at any time), then the Braves might not even need to make a trade at all.