Jordan Walden, the Hopper, strikes again!

Where's Walden? Braves' hop-thrower returning soon

Braves’ have had Growing Pains, but…

There’s no doubt that the Braves have missed Jordan Walden over the past month.  It’s been quite an uphill battle for the bullpen since the solid setup man went down with a hamstring injury (maybe if he didn’t hop in the air, he wouldn’t be prone to such silly things). David Carpenter has failed trying to fill Walden’s shoes throwing 11 innings of 5.73 ERA ball.  Ian Thomas was also thrust into some high-leverage situations, and has since been removed from the roster. Alex Wood has not adapted to the life of a bullpen arm throwing numerous ineffective innings since his move to the ‘pen, which coincided with Walden’s trip to the DL. Life was not been peachy on Peachtree for the bullpen.  Then in steps Shae Simmons

It is true that Shae has only thrown 3 innings out of the bullpen. However, it seems like he has already won his manager over as he’s been tested thrice in high-leverage situations and is testing out at 100%.  His fastball has real life and his slider looks to be the ultimate compliment. In my opinion, Shae is here to stay.  So…what now?

The bullpen consists of Craig Kimbrel, Shae Simmons, Luis Avilan, Alex Wood, Anthony Varvaro, and David Hale.  When Walden comes off the DL (which will likely happen Sunday considering he didn’t pitch for Gwinnett tonight), someone will have to go.  While it’ll likely be a simple move, such as Wood or Hale going to AAA, let’s explore a few options the Braves could choose…

1. Send Alex Wood to Gwinnett to get stretched out to start

The most likely option as Wood has been quite ineffecient in his role in the bullpen and the Braves will likely want him to be ready for a return to starting at some point in the 2nd half.

2. Send David Hale to Gwinnett

It’s not a sexy move, but Hale has options and it could be just as likely he’ll go instead of Wood as the Braves might want to keep a 2nd lefty in the ‘pen especially considering the 1st one has been quite inconsistent.

3. Send Shae Simmons back to the Minors

I don’t see this happening, but it’s a possibility.  If they do send him, it’ll likely be to Gwinnett, not to Mississippi so he can be close when needed.

4. Trade one of their veteran starters to help re-stock the minors to make room for Alex Wood in the rotation

An unlikely option, but one I’d love to see.

5. Package a veteran starter with Anthony Varvaro to acquire a dominant left-handed option out of the bullpen

There are many pitching hungry teams out there and the Braves  have been rumored to be looking for left-handed bullpen help. While I think Ian Thomas could do a solid job if given the role for the entire year, he might need a bit longer in the Minors.

Regardless of what happens, I’ll be excited to see Walden back on the mound very soon.

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Tags: Atlanta Braves Jordan Walden Shae Simmons

  • fireboss

    They are expecting Venters to return soon and be their left handed answer. Hale down and wood stays because he’s more versatile and of course left handed. Trade(s) will happen but I suspect we won’t like them

    • Ryan Cothran

      Venters has had quite a few setbacks already and, at this point, is a crapshoot. There’s absolutely no telling if he’ll pitch at all in the Majors or if he’ll find success. His last outing ended with soreness after 10 pitches of which the issue was said to be scar tissue breaking up. I remember hearing that about Beachy as well. So, it’s June, he hasn’t pitched to live pitching in well over a year, has had his 2nd Tommy John surgery, and is probably at least 1 month, if not multiple months from going on a rehab assignment. Why would the Braves expect anything out of him?

      On the trade front: It’d be nice if there was a 1-stop shop out there where we could unload Harang, Schafer, and maybe Varvaro for a bench bat and a LH bullpen arm, but I don’t foresee any teams that match up in needs/surplus.

      • fireboss

        I didn’t say I expected anything from him but the Braves gave him money knowing that Dr Andrews says the second TJ takes up to 18 months to full usefulness and that velocity loss is likely so they expect something. Signing him and not EOF was silly.
        Harang and Schafer have almost no trade value. Varvaro is lights out this year throwing to a 2.66 ERA, a 1.93 FIP (if you’re into that stat) and a 0.986 WHIP he’s been invaluable in long and short relief. I wouldn’t trade him period.

        • Ryan Cothran

          I never accused you of “expecting anything from him”, I merely rephrased what you said in your original comment. You stated the Braves expect him to be back soon and I don’t think that is the case anymore. He’s “throwing lightly” right now which is very telling that his timetable isn’t anywhere near what they were projecting it to be in March (late May, early June). At this point, the Braves will be lucky if he is back by August.

          While Varvaro is pitching well, he’s likely to be the 5th RH arm out of the bullpen behind Kimbrel, Walden, Carpenter, and Simmons. He’s trade bait, for sure and he should be. And I disagree that Harang doesn’t have trade value, and agree that Schafer doesn’t have much. There are CF deficiencies all throughout the Major Leagues and some team out there might take Schafer as a flyer if packaged right. Harang is cheap as dirt, reliable, and pitching above league average. He’s been worth 1.8 WAR thus far. He has value.

          • fireboss

            I didn’t say you accused me I was just pointing out that what I was saying is what the Braves have been and are still saying. Harang is a fifth starter in season and on no one’s post season roster as a starter; his trade value is small. I’d certainly trade him in a package as he is imminently replaceable and for a pitching starved team who just wants stability it makes sense but he’s not a prize arm teams are begging for.
            Varavo is the first choice RH out of the pen who R/L BA split is second only to Kimbrel and R/L OBP split is the best out there. i see no reason to trade your best RH non closer and a guy who gets lefties out for a loogy. It makes your pen weaker and unless you get a guy like EOF was two years ago (there afen’t many of those around) it makes the staff weaker.
            We’ll just have to agree to disagree here

          • Ryan Cothran

            The first choice RH out of the ‘pen? That’s not even remotely accurate. He’s faced 17 batters in high-leverage innings, tied with Walden who hasn’t pitched in a month, and well behind Hale, Carpenter, and Kimbrel. He’ll also be behind Simmons in another month. That’s not even a disagreement…it’s just not true. What am I missing?

          • fireboss

            What you’re missing or undervaluing is what he does – what his job is – when Carpenter and Walden aren’t an option. It’s not accurate to equate guys who face high leverage at part of their job description – Walden and Carpenter – with a man you can use at any time for up to 2 and sometimes 3 innings though usually the 3 innings guys will be Hale or Wood.
            You don’t and won’t see Walden and Carpenter early in the game during the regular season, they’re become 7th or 8th inning one and done guys and more likely to be brought in to get one guy in those innings making them higher leverage. Varvaro is used to start innings more often than enter in the middle of one. Fifteen of his twenty-three appearances have been beginning an inning. When he has entered and inherited runners he’s been stingy, allowing only 2 on 11 to score, both of those in 1 inning. In his high leverage situations he’s allowed nothing. You have to have that guy to fill that gap; he comes in early stops the bleeding and sticks around without allowing the other team to get back in the game. Right now Varvaro is that guy. They tried Hale and he isn’t yet. Woody is the left handed version of Varvaro or they would like him to be. Simmons is a guy whose future is one and done. I think he will be in AAA when Walden returns to allow him to be used regularly and to keep that super 2 clock stalled.

          • Ryan Cothran

            yep… getting nowhere.