The next 3 pieces in this series will discuss the pitchers that have potential to make up the ideal 25-man roster. If you’re new to the series, the position players were discussed in parts 1, 2, and 3 and can be found by clicking the number accordingly. Many of the pitchers are shoo-ins, barring injury, for a spot and will not be discussed. Those pitchers are as follows:
That leaves 3 slots to discuss, either 1 starter and 2 relievers, or 3 relievers depending on how the Braves choose to use Alex Wood. As pitchers tend to be behind the hitters at this point in Spring Training, I will not be measuring the pitchers based on early spring appearances (Garcia’s hot start, Buchter’s putrid appearances), but will reflect on numbers from previous years to determine the ideal 25-man roster. Also, I will exclude players from this list who aren’t receiving early appearances in Spring Training games as, if history remains true, these types aren’t receiving real consideration for spots out of the gate.
Atlanta Braves’ Anthony Varvaro
Anthony Varvaro has a 50% chance to make the roster. Looking at pure numbers, Varvaro looks like he should be a lock in the 2014 bullpen, but his surface numbers are misleading. Diving deeper into some advanced metrics, Varvaro has been much, much worse in high leverage situations and the Braves seem to know this: Career: Faced 363 batters in low-leverage situations and only 70 in high-leverage.
Even though the mop-up man isn’t a desired position to be in, all bullpens have one. However, most of the time the mop-up man provides more than just useless innings at the end of a blowout. Veteran leadership is something that tends to be coveted by the Braves and Varvaro doesn’t seem like the mentoring type. Does Anthony Varvaro provide value to an ideal 25-man roster? My answer: No.
Atlanta Braves’ Cory Gearrin
Cory Gearrin has a 50% chance to make the roster. I’ve defended Cory Gearrin for many years and truthfully I think Cory is a much better pitcher than what his numbers show. FIP agrees with what my eyes tell me as it measures 1/2 run less than his ERA. Cory has nothing to prove in AAA and will no doubt be claimed on waivers should he not make the roster. However, if given a roster spot Cory will be of limited use as he is no doubt a ROOGY and should only face lefties in dire need or when the bases are empty.
He had a reverse platoon split in ’13 but the results were fluky, much like the rest of his season. In April and May, Cory was showing his value as he pitched to a 1.80 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 25 innings. His BABIP against was about league average so his success wasn’t fluky and only 27% of his inherited runners were scoring . Then, something happened and he fell off the baseball cliff. It was later revealed that Gearrin suffered shoulder fatigue and he didn’t pitch again, in the Minors or the Majors, after his July 3rd appearance.
A familiar Braves’ name, Peter Moylan, made his name as a ROOGY and was one of the Braves most dependable relievers for half a decade and Cory is very much a pitcher in the Moylan mold. Could Cory Gearrin be the 2014 ROOGY of the year? Does he provide value to an ideal 25-man roster? My answer: Yes.
Atlanta Braves’ Ryan Buchter
Ryan Buchter has a 50% chance to make the roster. It’s been ugly in camp thus far for Mr. Buchter, but make no mistake that this dude can pitch…he just doesn’t know where it’s going all the time. Effectively wild has long been the description of a pitcher that brings the heat, plunks a few, walks a few, and strikes out a ton. Buchter is not there yet. His 15K/9 is an accomplishment that Aroldis Chapman never topped in the Minors, but on the contrary Aroldis never walked 7.4/9 either.
Buchter will have to show that he has harnessed his ball 4 tendencies enough to win the 2nd lefty spot in the ‘pen and make no doubt that the Braves will give he and any other lefty numerous opportunities to prove/disprove their worth. Does Buchter provide value to an ideal 25-man roster? My answer: No…but I sure would love to see “Buchter’s Butchers” make an appearance at Turner Field sometime this season!
Part 5 will be coming up in 2 days time. Thanks for reading!