Braves: Does Brian Snitker Have a Point with Bullpen Management

It was a tough weekend for Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snikter who made some questionable decisions with some of his bullpen arms.

The Atlanta Braves split a four-game series with the Washington Nationals over the weekend, but it feels like they lost the series considering they let two games get away from them late.

Both of their losses were one-run games late and Snitker decided to go with some unproven guys out of the bullpen instead of using our best relievers to keep it close.

And both times the Nationals were able to pull away and get the win.

Knowing how this team loves to come back late, a one-run deficit is knowing for them. In fact, had Snitker gone to a better bullpen arm on Friday night Travis d’Arnaud‘s two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth might have been a walk-off.

But enough of reliving the frustration of the weekend, let’s see if Snitker actually has a good point.

Here are Snitker’s comments on his bullpen usage over the weekend:

Basically, Snitker is saying he’s not going to use his good relievers when they’re behind because he’s afraid of over-working them.

But this is where I think Snitker is off his rocker. There’s a big difference in being behind by three runs and one run.

If the Braves are down by three going into the eighth inning, sure bring out Chad Sobotka. But one run is nothing for this offense late in the game — that’s a still a winnable game.

And here is the other thing makes his argument hogwash — the Braves best relievers really haven’t even been worked that much this year.

Yes, the Braves have the seventh most innings from their bullpen in all of baseball this year, but because the bullpen is so deep Snitker has actually done a great job in how he’s used them.

Even when they’ve been on long winning streaks he’ll use Shane Greene and Chris Marin in one game and then Will Smith and Mark Melancon the next to prevent these guys from going back-to-back.

Greene is the only Braves reliever in the top 50 of innings pitched for relievers with his 19.

Grant Dayton has thrown five more innings than Mark Melancon this season. Luke Jackson has 5 more innings pitched than Chris Martin.

Yes, the Braves bullpen has thrown a lot of innings this year, but not their top arms.

Snitker has actually done a great job of limiting their innings and keeping them fresh.

Here is the only thing that makes sense for Snitker in the way he managed the bullpen over the weekend, is perhaps he’s thinking about the postseason.

Right now the Atlanta Braves have one good starter for the postseason in Max Fried and he just had a scary decrease in his fastball velocity in his last start.

Maybe Ian Anderson continues to pitch how he has, but it’s risky counting on a rookie in the postseason. And I’m not putting much hope in Cole Hamels.

Snitker knows he’s going to have to rely heavily on his top bullpen arms in order to make any run in the postseason.

And that’s the only legitimate reason to not want to overwork them now.

But even then, you need to win these games now. I know it would take an epic collapse for the Braves not to make the postseason at this point, but hurry up and clinch and then you can rest these guys down the stretch.

Needless to say, it was a rough weekend for Snitker and hopefully he makes a different decision next time the Braves are behind by one run late.