It has been evident all year that the Atlanta Braves badly need some help in the bullpen. This could be the secret weapon.
It is no secret of this either. The Atlanta Braves bullpen has struggled mightily at times so far during the 2021 season.
We’ve seen numerous players continue to get opportunities in the bullpen over and over the past two seasons. Sure you can try to piece together the bullpen for the next 1-2 months until the MLB Trade Deadline, but you need to make it there first.
It seems almost inevitable that the Braves will make a substantial move sometime this season to improve the bullpen. Why not make that move right now?
There is one clear move to help the bullpen that the Braves should make right now. No, not a trade. In fact, it’s an internal option that is already on the 40-man roster.
No, it isn’t Shane Greene, but he will 100% be a welcomed addition. This option may be a fairly unknown to Braves fans, but could turn out to be very impactful if it does indeed happen.
The Atlanta Braves should call up Jasseel De La Cruz.
The move that should be made is for the Braves to call up #9 prospect Jasseel De La Cruz. If you’re wondering where you have seen that name before, De La Cruz has been called up twice already over the past year, but never made an appearance.
As mentioned previously, De La Cruz is one of the Braves’ top pitching prospects. Originally signed by Atlanta back in 2015, the 23-year old RHP never really started to emerge until the 2019 season.
Splitting time as a starter and reliever coming up through the minor leagues, De La Cruz emerged as more of a full-time starter in 2019 where he posted a 3.25 ERA in 24 starts across three different levels. After spending the 2020 season at the alternate training site, the young right-hander has posted a 3.12 ERA in 6 appearances (4 starts) down in Gwinnett so far this season.
While he has recently split time as a starter in the minor leagues, De La Cruz arguably projects best as a reliever at the big league level. Why? It’s simple, his “stuff” is electric.
De La Cruz displays an electric fastball that consistently flirts with triple-digits, as well as a wipeout slider that is arguably one of the best pure pitches in the Braves organization. Pair those two above-average pitches with an improving changeup, and you have a legit 3-pitch mix.
Walks can be a question at times for De La Cruz, making the young right-hander a prime candidate to eventually end up in the bullpen. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either.
De La Cruz’s fastball and slider combination has the potential to be nasty out of the ‘pen. He has already shown that he has the ability to work multiple innings at a time throughout his career, who says he can’t be a multi-inning weapon for Atlanta?
He has shown over the past two years that he is ready to contribute in the big leagues right now. If the Braves truly want to make a change that will leave a difference in their bullpen going forward, call up De La Cruz and let his pure stuff speak for itself.