BS Report: July 24th
Last night we once again saw the Braves bullpen fail. The game was tied at 2 in the 8th inning and the normally dependable Anthony Swarzak gave up a home run to Lucas Duda. Then, after a walk and a single, Wes Parsons was brought in to relieve Swarzak. He then walked two batters and hit a batter. And despite a rally in the 9th inning, the Braves fell short. – We are now a week away from the trade deadline, and we are waiting to see what the front office will do. They need a reliever. They may need more than one reliever. – With the performance of Kevin Gausman last Sunday night, now there are questions about whether the Braves need a starting pitcher. They have Dallas Keuchel (who was great Tuesday night), Mike Soroka, Julio Teheran and Gausman. Max Fried will be back this weekend. That’s five starters. Mike Foltynewicz pitched Wednesday afternoon for Triple-A Gwinnett, so he is still an option. If the Braves do get another starting pitcher, some of these starters will have to go to the bullpen. So, do the Braves just get a starter and help the bullpen with starting pitchers? Do they gamble that Foltynewicz or Gausman can become the closer and push Luke Jackson to a setup role? Or do they just go acquire a closer and maybe even another setup man in trades? This decision will be the biggest of the almost-two-year tenure for general manager Alex Anthopoulos. If he gets the right players back in deals, and it leads to the Braves winning the division and winning a playoff series or two or three, he’ll be looked at as a hero. But with the team being this good and having perhaps the best chance of winning in October in 18 years, if Anthopoulos doesn’t push the right buttons, he’ll be blamed. It’s the pressure of being a general manager in baseball. It’s not going to be an easy call. Does he sacrifice potential important members of this team for the future for players who could help them win this year? Or does he just say, “The future be damned. We need to win now.” The Braves have so many prospects, and yes, there are ones they’d prefer to keep. But some of these Braves prospects would be even higher rated in other organizations, so if the Braves do resist trading the three or four best prospects, these other teams should still want some of Atlanta’s young talent. The bottom line is this. Can this Braves team win – as currently constructed – in October? We all know, with Luke Jackson leading the majors in blown saves with seven, the answer to that question is no. The Braves must make some moves – plural – moves – not just one – but they need a starter and a closer. And… they’ve got a week to do it.