Will The Chief be chosen to pass his baseball knowledge down to the Atlanta Braves' young pitchers?

Braves Ideal 25-man Roster, Part 5 of 7

In part 5 of the 7-part series, we will look at 4 pitchers who have a chance to break camp with the Major League club, but do they belong on the ideal-25-man roster? If you’re new to the series, Parts 1-4 can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 4. Let’s begin by discussing the only candidate who is on a “make the team or go home” path this spring.

Atlanta Braves’ Freddy Garcia

Freddy Garcia has a 75% chance to make the Braves’ roster. Smoke and mirrors…that is really the only justifiable explanation for Freddy Garcia’s career-rebounding success in a Braves’ uniform. Starting Spring Training where he ended in ’13, The Chief has all but done away with throwing a traditional fastball and relies on benders and sinkers to get people out. However, since his sinker has about the same velocity as his fastball (and the sinker being his “out” pitch), I guess he’s realized the redundancy of throwing a fastball.

With a 6-pitch arsenal that ranges from 72-87 MPH, Garcia still has the deception needed to be successful, but it’s only a matter of time before BABIP adjusts and Garcia goes from hero to zero. The tell-tale sign? Garcia had a collective 4.37 ERA last year between the Orioles and the Braves and his BABIP against was 20 points lower than his career average and 30+ points away from league average. If those numbers regress to the mean, Garcia would be a 5 ERA pitcher. However, with Andrelton Simmons over his right shoulder, the chance for The Chief to continue to outduel the norm is more likely. At best, I see Garcia being a mid-4′s ERA pitcher that can provide a lot of insight to the younger players in the organization. Does Freddy Garcia provide value for the ideal 25-man roster? My answer…for the price? Yes.

Atlanta Braves’ J.R. Graham

J.R. Graham has a 25% chance to make the roster. J.R. Graham was well on his way to becoming one of the best pitching prospects in baseball after his 2012 campaign. A combined 2.80 ERA between High-A and AA boosted Graham to a Top-100 prospect ranking for Minor League guru John Sickels and it looked as though we had our next top of the rotation starter coming through the pipeline. It was expected by many that Graham would either jump the prospect rankings to elite status or find his way into the MLB rotation (in 2013). Then, 2013 happened… and the oh so dreaded shoulder injury showed its ugly head. He went down in May, rested a month, attempted to come back, went down again, received a “stem cell platelet-rich plasma” injection, and didn’t pitch the rest of the season.

Fast forward to this spring…it seems like the injection might have served its purpose and Graham is back to throwing and throwing hard, albeit not as hard as before (and probably a good thing). He’s admittedly rusty and out of game practice but he could rebound quickly and force the Braves make a hard decision. Truthfully, I see no reason to rush him to the Majors into relief, especially if the Braves still think he could be a #2 or #3 starter. With 2 pitches that grade out as plus-plus, 1 that grades out at plus, and another that is developing, relief, especially if healthy, would be selling J.R. short. Does J.R. Graham have a spot on the ideal 25-man roster? My answer: No.

Atlanta Braves’ David Hale

David Hale has a 50% chance to make the roster. In ERA alone David Hale has improved every step in the Minor Leagues. Here are the yearly results from ’10-’13: 4.13, 4.10, 3.77, 3.22. Explanation? His left on base % increased every year and for the most part, his BABIP against decreased (exception being 2013). It’s quite funny, but each year that his ERA decreased, his FIP increased.

Most projections have Hale as a mid-4′s ERA Major Leaguer and that seems about right to me, if he’s left a starter. However, as a reliever, I think his 3 pitch selection could work to his advantage in lesser innings per outing. With only a 10 MPH differential in the 3 pitches, I think he would be very vulnerable after multiple times through a lineup. Truthfully, with the talent in the organization, Hale should never be a full-time starter for the Braves. Like others with underwhelming stuff, he’ll have to rely on pinpoint accuracy to be successful. Can he do that and is he a candidate for the ideal 25-man roster? My answer: Yes!

Atlanta Braves’ Gus Schlosser

Gus Schlosser has a 15% chance to make the roster. It’s not often that a sidewinder makes it this far in a pitching career and is still listed as a starter. However, if Schlosser makes it to the Major Leagues with the Braves, he’ll likely be forfeiting his starting gig for some ‘pen action.

A College pitcher, Schlosser picked up the sidearm delivery after he was suggested to “drop down” by one of his coaches. Apparently he was having trouble repeating mechanics overhead and the change felt natural. Self-admittedly, Schlosser doesn’t have dominant stuff and relies on pitching “around” the strike zone to be successful. His K-rate has been lower the last few years and that is more due to starting than anything else. Likely filling the ROOGY role (like most sidearmers, his splits are more significant), Schlosser would have to overcome both Cory Gearrin and Luis Vasquez and since both of those guys are on the 40-man roster, I don’t see that happening.

Does the Schloss have what it takes to make the ideal 25-man roster? I’d be reading too much into 3 innings of Spring Training stats to say yes. My answer: No (but on a side note, if either of the above fail to produce in the first few months, Schlosser would be my pick to take the spot and Schlosser’s Flossers could be a great upper-deck fan-club at The Ted).

Part 6 of 7 will be up in about 2 days time.  Thanks for reading!

Tags: Atlanta Braves David Hale FanSided Freddy Garcia Gus Schlosser J.R. Graham

  • Ryan Cothran

    The Ideal 25-man roster has obviously changed in the past 48 hours and I will cover that change in the 7th and final post of this series. If any of the readers (or staff-writers) would like to submit, by email, their ideal 25-man roster, I’ll post the percentages for each player discussed based on collected submissions. I’ll provide information in the next post.

  • fireboss

    As of today Hale and Garcia are 95% locks for opening day. Beachy’s inability to throw without discomfort or get over the 90 mark with his fastball make him more likely to start on the DL. Minor won’t be there for 2 weeks and Santana is likely on about that pace. Looks like Teheran, Wood, Garcia and Hale through the 14th when they will need a fifth starter. After Santana and Minor return Freddy will stick and Hale will go back to Gwinnett.
    As you point out Garcia is a once around the dance floor partner. After teams get a good look the second appearance won’t be good. If he doesn’t look good early on Hale could stick until Floyd is ready.

  • Wayne Canon

    With the overabundance of useless stats you litter your column with — You have to throw in this gem:
    “Does Freddy Garcia provide value for the ideal 25-man roster? My answer…for the price? Yes.”
    What kind of useless conclusion is that? Either he is or isn’t ideal for the 25-man roster, price be damned. He is either good enough or he isn’t. By your stat evaluation, you could offer one of the parking lot attendants five bucks to start a game. His performance would be utterly embarassing, but damn, we got him for a song.
    I think these fantasy league stats are going overboard when it comes to REAL baseball. Soon they are going to be coming up with stats like:
    The 26-year old lefty has an amazing .998 WHPIADGONTOAFEOTM. (When He Pitches In A Day Game On Natural Turff On A Field East Of The Mississippi)
    Dan Uggla has raised his CHTGWHH (Couldn’t Hit The Ground With His Hat) to where he is creeping into CHABBWASS territory (Couldn’t Hit A Bulls Butt With A Snow Shovel)
    Just enjoy the game

    • Ryan Cothran

      I think it’s safe to say that we enjoy the game differently, Wayne. I enjoy advanced metrics, you don’t. If you want to continue valuing Brian McCann based on his average, HR, and RBI, or Freddy Garcia simply on his ERA, by all means do it. I like the advanced metrics and feel they give a better sense of value (and predictive value) for players. There are many authors here that express things simply. You may find their columns more enjoyable. But thanks for reading.

      • Wayne Canon

        How did your “predictive value” work out for for Kris Medlin this year?
        pretty good?

        • Ryan Cothran

          Why don’t you imply the “enjoy the game” mentality to the blog. Or better yet, comment on things where you actually want a conversation.

          So I’ll ask you this…how did youhome run, RBI, and career average justify the contract to Brian McCann?

  • Wayne Canon

    My favorite Skip Caryism was:
    “…..we’re at the bottom of yet another fifth.”
    He was awesome.

  • http://www.tomahawktake.com/ Chris Headrick

    Ryan, Schlosser had me very intrigued awhile back, so i wrote up a quick piece about it, but this was of course back in January. ( http://tomahawktake.com/2014/01/17/schlosser/ ). He’s certainly versatile, but I think your 15% at this point is probably on point. I like what he could potentially bring to the pen at some point this year though.