At the beginning of the shortened 2020 baseball season, the Braves had a lot to be excited about with a potent lineup and improved bullpen. Just a few weeks into the season, the Braves have already had some major concerns in their rotation.
At the beginning of the year, the rotation plan was simple- Mike Soroka, Max Freid, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, and Kyle Wright. Now, that plan has completely changed. After Foltynewicz’s July 27th outing at Tampa Bay where the former ace of the Braves’ pitching staff gave up six earned runs and three Rays home runs in just 3.1 innings, GM Alex Anthopoulos made it obvious that the leach was short, as the right hander was designated for assignment within a half-hour of the end of the game.
That, coupled with the struggles of the 2017 first round pick of Kyle Wright through his first two starts of the season had Braves’ fans even less certain of their rotation. The positive light was the one-two rotation punch of Soroka and Fried. The top of the Braves’ rotation gave up a combined 10 earned runs in six starts which was promising, but bad turned to worse on August 3rd when Mike Soroka tore his achilles to end his promising season.
So now the big question for Braves’ fans is this: Do the Braves have enough rotation depth to get through the season and the extended postseason?
As of right now, it looks like the answer is no. Fortunately, Max Fried is looking solid at what is now the top of the rotation. Also, Sean Newcomb has done well in his move from the bullpen back into the rotation. Last season, Newcomb clearly had the stamina to go six plus innings, but he was plagued by walks and high pitch counts (those two things normally go hand-in-hand). Also Touki Toussaint, who made just one spot start in 2019, was impressive in Thursday night’s four hit and nine strikeout night.
That seems to be more than enough for Newcomb and Toussaint to be in the rotation because quite frankly, they do not have any other options. So right now, the Braves have a four man rotation with Fried, Newcomb, Wright (who might be on a short leash), and Toussaint (who has only eight career starts). Personally, I see this as a rotation with only two reliable starting arms as well. This is clearly a concern, but is it really worth it for the Braves to pick up a rental on the trading block for a 60 game season?
Anthopoulos’ answer to this question did not seem to favor one side or the other. “Today, the likelihood is we’ll stay internal,” said the fourth year Braves executive, “but we’ll continue to inquire and see if we can line up on a deal.”
It would be great to fix the issue internally, but it certainly takes some luck to call up an arm and have them be successful right away. Also, I am not sure who that arm could be other than the first round pick Ian Anderson or Patrick Weigel- neither of which have any major league experience.
Now that the Braves seem to have a reliable bullpen for the first time in years, it seems that Brian Snitker will have to rely on that bullpen for a lot of innings for such a weak rotation with only four men in it.