The Ideal Braves Bullpen and 4th of July Game Thread

Have ya ever went to a psychic? Me either. But my wife has and here is what she found out.


At the time, she felt enlightened by the vague predictions of her future self and the vague guesses of her past self, but then she became an adult and realized it was just gift-wrapped garbage that cost her 75 bucks.

I’d like to have found that lady who, without a doubt, would have smelled of sandalwood essence, in April and ask what her prediction would be on where the 2019 Atlanta Braves bullpen would stand on the day of celebrating our country’s birth. She’d likely ask for more information, of which I’d provide because I got da stats, and surely she’d conclude by giving me what I want to hear, and that is they’ll be better than 2018. And, in her vague attempt to seduce me from my money, I’d nod my head, take a deep breath of sandalwood, say “Yeah…you’re right”, give her my 75 bucks and be on my way happy as a clam.

Well…then these things happened:

  1. Arodys Vizcaino had shoulder surgery after 4 games.
  2. A.J. Minter imploded after sitting nearly all of Spring Training out after a car crash.
  3. Shane Carle and Dan Winkler, 2 guys that carried the pen in early 2018, put up wretched numbers and were sent to AAA.
  4. Jonny Venters pitched in 9 games, had a 17.46 ERA, and was let go.
  5. Jesse Biddle pitched in 11.2 innings, walked 10, and got lit up like a Christmas tree, then let go.
  6. Darren O’Day, acquired at 2018’s trade deadline, was supposed to be healthy by season’s start and yet, hasn’t pitched an inning anywhere in 2019.

So, if you’re counting, that’s 7 guys. And if you’d have asked me in January of 2019 who would make up the Braves bullpen come Opening Day, I’d have at least had 6 of these guys on that list. No doubt, in my fictitious scenario above, I’d have been name searching that fortune teller and, prematurely, would be leaving horrible reviews on every outlet imaginable.

No one could have predicted the full meltdown of the bullpen that happened in April and early May. No one could have predicted that Luke Jackson would be the closer and be nicknamed “Sliderman” because he took an offseason trip to Driveline and relearned how to pitch. And no one would have guessed that after all the injuries, and the shuffling of players back and forth to Gwinnett, salary dump trades, and dumpster diving for scraps, that the Braves bullpen would be where it is now.

#1 in ERA in the National League.

Not only that, but their cumulative inherited runners scored percentage is league average, so they’ve been fairly effective keeping their starters ERAs low. Now, if you’re an advanced stat studier, don’t look at FIP or xFIP as it isn’t pretty, and the WHIP isn’t great, but take those with a grain of salt because all of those include numbers from these guys:

Yes, that’s 84.2 innings of horror!

So, what’s the ideal Braves bullpen? I think we are pretty close. There’s a good core there. Mix in some veterans like Josh Tomlin and Jerry Blevins, or some young flamethrowers in Huascar Ynoa and Chad Sobotka, and there could be some serious lights out nights from this bullpen. However, I think we’re in need of 1 more guy. I’m not going to make predictions on who that player is, but I know that Anthopoulos will make something happen come the trade deadline! Be excited, Braves fans!

Long live, Braves Journal!

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

75 thoughts on “The Ideal Braves Bullpen and 4th of July Game Thread”

  1. 1. Brad Hand
    2. Hansel Robles
    3. Will Smith
    4. Hansel Robles

    Any 2 of these please

  2. It’s also good to hear that Swarzak will just make the minimum DL stay and no rehab. The core of the pen has been really encouraging. Jackson, Newcomb, Webb, Newk, Swarzak and Blevins have pitched 73 of the 103 relief innings in the last month. And they’ve produced an ERA of about 2. Webb and Swarzak have not given up an ERA in their 23.1 combined IP in the last 30 days.

    I think I’d feel a ton better if we knew what the heck we have with Minter, but short of that, the pen is definitely good enough to be preserve enough leads and outpace what the other team is most likely throwing out there, which is the most important. Like Ryan, I’m also looking forward to seeing more Ynoa.

  3. I want to know! Have any of you been to a psychic? Share your experience…well, at least until game time then it’s back to baseball.

  4. Back when I actually had a job, one of my employees went weekly to her “spiritual advisor” to obtain guidance for the coming week. She also bet the same lucky numbers on the lotto.

    As far as I know, she never suffered from demonic possession and was never plagued by evil spirits. She never won a penny off her lucky numbers either, but she was a hoot in her slightly off center way.

    Thanks for the seance, Ryan.

  5. There’s a prominent sign for a psychic on US 431 that I pass by every time I drive between Atlanta and my home in the FL panhandle. Sister Mary I think. I wonder if she knew I wouldn’t stop.

  6. Venters has pitched 1.2 innings for the Nats and struck out 3 with no hits, no walks, and an HBP. It’s hard not to pull for Jonny but I won’t be happy if he helps the Nats turn around their horrible bullpen.

  7. @33 from prior thread. Seems to me that Newk may be creating a whole new type of role for himself. If performances like last night become a norm (and many here have rooted for ones like that), Newk becomes the 7th and 8th inning reliever – a 2-inn bridge guy to the closer. I think Touki is similar but being used earlier in the game as a 2-inn bridge guy. Tomlin is the official “long man”. Blevins is the LOOGY and really should only ever be a LOOGY. The rest (including Swarzak) are traditional one inning relievers and/or handedness plays.

    If you can count on Newk for 2 innings every other day or so and have Sobotka/Dayton/Webb/(Swarzak) cover the 7th, 8th every other day and Jackson closes most days with Minter 2.0 (assuming he can be 2.0) closing the others then this bullpen is complete. What we need is a second closer type to protect us from “bad Minter”.

    Note: By all rights, Venters should have been able to have Blevins’ role. Makes me sad.

  8. Anyone notice that Shelby Miller was released by the Rangers in favor of Jesse Biddle? There’s got to be some irony there somewhere.

  9. I keep forgetting about O’Day. The Braves have seemingly ‘disappeared’ him better than Stalin did Nikolai Yezhov. Is he supposed to pitch for the Atlanta Braves during the 2019 regular season?

  10. I think it’s easy to forget how young a lot of our team is. Over the past two seasons, 24 players have appeared in an MLB game that were born in 1997 or later. Six of them are Braves. Bryce Wilson is the second youngest player to have started a game this season. Soroka is the third youngest. It’s a good time to be a fan.

  11. Welp. I take the blame for this, I never should have said we had kept their bats quiet this series.

  12. Soroka should have pitched with his Home glove, the white one.

    Welcome back, Bethany!

  13. The announcers kept emphasizing before the game that Soroka only needs to go 3 and a third to qualify for the ERA lead. I don’t think we’ll be hearing more about that tonight.

    It will be good to see if he can right the ship after such a disastrous start. Good learning experience. And if he can hold them, the Braves just may overtake them. Dansby, Freddie, Nick!

  14. That Dansby guy. I just don’t know if he’s gonna be a good enough hitter. Current OPS = over .820.

    Way to go Lt. Dans!!!

  15. Dansby is hitting most any pitch to all parts of the field. He is becoming one of my favorite Braves.

  16. This team is so much fun to watch! Reminds me of some of the teams from the 90’s!

  17. It pains me to say this, but Ryan Howard is a good color guy, and David Ross works well with him

  18. F yeah Ozzie!

    Saw it as “in play runs” on game day, but after seeing the location of the pitch, I was crossing my fingers for a HR.

  19. Back-to-back JACK! JD and Freddie.

    9 hits and 8 EBH….. I guess if you’re gonna hit it, you might as well hit it far.

  20. Four doubles and four homers, and the hardest hit ball, so far, was Acuña’s infield single.

  21. Phils were lucky to get themselves a sweep to begin the year. Every other time we’ve played them since last Sept 1st, we haven’t just beaten them, we’ve demoralized them by beating them so thoroughly. I’d be surprised if they are better than .500 from here on out.

  22. In all seriousness, this team is really special. There was no doubt in my mind of the Braves could come back from that early hole. And I also thought that Soroka would rebound.

    I’ll also never get tired of the centerfielders mimicking the corner outfielders.

  23. Braves organist is playing the theme from The Brady Bunch for Scott Kingery. What’s the reference?

  24. Man…RAJ is struggling. I was concerned about the derby messing up his swing but now I am hoping it can fix it

  25. Been traveling this afternoon to Paducah, KY. When ya have 2 kids, one 3 and the other 1, 9 hours trips to Asheville take 2 days! Luckily, I’ve been keeping up via radio! What a team. And if y’all didn’t know yet, Albies is my fave!

  26. Raise your hand if you predicted that Dansby would have 17 dingers by the 4th of July.

  27. Dansby is okay, I guess. Have a game, woo!I

    For the record, I like beating the Phillies more than cheese grits.

  28. Radio crew just pointed out that this is the first time, since the team moved to Atlanta, that all four infielders have homered in the same game.

  29. @13. Wouldn’t it be 7 Braves have played in the majors in the past two years born ’97 or later? Albies, Allard, Acuna, Soroka, Wilson, Riley, and Ynoa. Incredible when you really think about it

  30. Ozzie Albies
    wozzhe always so anxious us to allplease?
    his recent four outs on five pitches
    he insists he chose simply as contrast to his normal embarrassment of riches.


    Dansby Swanson
    his hard hands long gone
    his wrist non pareil
    his barrelling bat throws those balls to the sky.

  31. McCann and Flowers have almost exactly the same amount of PAs through last night’s game, and their numbers across the board are almost identical. Flowers has two triples to McCann’s zero, and has also struck out twice as often (58 Ks to McCann’s 27).

    I’ll take ’em!

  32. Nothing is certain in baseball, but I’d say Flowers’ lead in triples over BMac is insurmountable.

  33. What about all those bunt singles McCann has? Surely, those must count for something?!

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