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.