Five Big Questions for the 2016 Atlanta Braves

Media Credit: Curtis Compton - AJC

Media Credit: Curtis Compton – AJC

Will the bullpen be improved?

In short, it would be tough for the bullpen to be any worse in 2016. A combined 4.69 bullpen ERA was 29th in the league, and for fans that watched on a nightly basis, it seemed much worse than that. Trades, suspensions, injuries, ineffectiveness – you name it and the Braves ‘pen experienced it in 2015. Craig Kimbrel was traded just days before the season started, and the domino effect lasted throughout the season.

The lone bright spot, after his 80-game suspension of course, was Arodys Vizcaino. He posted a 1.60 ERA while striking out 37 batters in 33 innings, and will likely head into the season as the closer. Behind Vizcaino are several more question marks. Jim Johnson returns on a one-year deal, and will likely begin the season in a set-up role. He was very good in Atlanta, before a steep drop off after a trade to the Dodgers. Jason Grilli is coming off an Achilles injury, but it appears he will be ready for Spring Training. Vizacaino, Johnson and Grilli will be asked to do the heavy lifting early on as the pieces behind them shuffle into place. Shae Simmons and Chris Withrow both are high velocity arms who missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery. Ideally each of them will be ready to contribute by mid-to-late May. Daniel Winkler,a Rule 5 pick from last year, will be on the roster for the first portion of the season and given an opportunity. Mix in the potential of Foltynewicz and non-roster invitees Chacin and Alexi Ogando, the Braves are aiming for a much improved ‘pen this season.

5 Responses

  1. fleiter69

    The only real question for this Braves team is: Is it possible to lose every game in a an MLB season?

    Reply
    • Adam Piede

      If it weren’t for the 18 games vs the Phillies I would say yes. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
    • Wayne Canon

      I don’t know….but we’ve got a damn good shot at it.

      Reply
  2. John Sheets

    I sure hope Perez is not in the rotation, let alone on the team. His WHIP and K:B ratio are all you need to see. His starts were tough to watch last year. Same with Folty. Neither will succeed until they can learn to locate there fastball on the inside part of the plate, which I don’t think they will. I don’t mind moving Folty to the bullpen where he can do what he does, just throw hard. I’d like to see Blair in the rotation to start the year if he has a good spring. It’s annoying when teams wait to call up a kid for an extra year of control. These boys are going to need all the big league experience they can get if we want to compete in 17, 18.

    Reply
    • Adam Piede

      Of Banuelos, Folty, and Perez…Banuelos looked the best when healthy, but I don’t know if he can be counted on. I doubt either Blair or Newcombe start in the Bigs for the very reason you disdain, the extra year of control. I don’t necessarily like it but for a team like the Braves it makes sense. Why burn a year over 6 weeks of pitching for a team that goes no where. No IF the Cubs were burned last year by not bringing up Bryant, now that is a different story.

      Reply

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