It might be a small sample size, but Arodys Vizcaino‘s dominance is something the Atlanta Braves should feel excited about. Vizcaino boasts a 0.66 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 14.2 innings of work; he’s allowed just one earned run in 16 appearances. His FIP of 2.28 is also something to be noted; he seems like the real deal.
The Braves bullpen is responsible for 24 losses this season, on top of that, they have a collective ERA of 4.24. It doesn’t help that they have cycled through 27 different bullpen pitchers.
Vizcaino would come to the Show late in the season due to an 80-game PED suspension. It’s possible the Braves have a better record if he’s not suspended. With Jason Grilli in the closing role for much of the season, Vizcaino could have been the perfect set-up man. They are a very competitive team, but the lack of solid late inning work (among other things) has let them to a 51-63 record.
So what is Vizcaino working with? He throws a fastball, a changeup, and a slider. His fastball is his bread-and-butter pitch; it tops out at 101mph, but sits at 97-98. He tries to get batters into deep counts with the fastball, and then break them off with a slider for a strikeout. All of his pitches are thrown hard, but he’s gotten better controlling his off-speed stuff.
The Braves more than likely felt Shae Simmons was the closer of the future, since a trade sent perennial All-Star Craig Kimbrel to the San Diego Padres. Simmons needing Tommy John surgery has temporarily halted those plans. Not that this is a lost season for Atlanta, but a pennant chase isn’t in their sights. It’s great that they’re giving Vizcaino chances to close games, because it gives him an idea of what the role entails. This could be very beneficial to other bullpen arms, because they will get a chance to earn a set-up role. Simmons/Vizcaino going back-t0-back, in time, could very much resemble a cheaper, and much younger Dellin Betances/Andrew Miller duo.
It’s no secret that the Braves are in somewhat of a transitionary period. They’re obviously building for the 2017 season, when they’ll leave Turner Field and begin playing at Sun Trust Park. By then, they will have prospects that will likely be ready for the the Show. It’s been somewhat of a quick process. In just one off-season, they’ve been able to build a solid farm system. They’re bringing in young arms, trading for young, talented position players, getting rid of bad contracts, and making trades with no emotion. General Manager John Hart has made trades for lesser players than who they were traded for, and they’ve produced at a high level. Hart might be playing a little bit of Moneyball, but he’s putting the Braves in a position for better results.