We kept hearing rumors that the Braves would be looking for relievers over starters the closer it got to the deadline. First, we traded Kolby Allard for Chris Martin. Then Peanut obviously knew something because he said they were pursuing Shane Greene. And about 30 minutes after that trade was announced, the Braves announced they traded for Mark Melancon. In a span of 18 hours, the Braves completely transformed their bullpen.
Even though they took back a decent amount of salary, they essentially kept pace with other teams who added payroll at the deadline. So according to Spotrac, they sit with a 14th-ranked payroll with minimal ability to acquire for the remainder of the season. Added to the payroll was Melancon’s $4.5M remaining, Greene’s $1.2M remaining, and Martin’s $750K remaining. This keeps them slightly above league average payroll.
But now the bullpen is largely solidified barring injury or release for the next month. The existing bullpen immediately becomes part of a portion of the pen that will be used in lower leverage. Melancon, Greene, and Martin all become your highest leverage options in the late innings. Luke Jackson, Sean Newcomb, and Anthony Swarzak all will get some rest, and will slide down the rungs of leverage a little bit. Finally. As great as those guys have been, reinforcements were more than necessary.
And more importantly, in the heat of a pennant race, you’re not transitioning starters in AAA to pitchers at the big league level. You’re not playing the Gwinnett shuffle, you’re not having to evaluate young pitchers in short sample, and you’re not throwing unproven pitchers into the highest leverage situations of their lives. With Melancon and Greene, you have two truly proven late-inning commodities, and Martin has his own experience as well.
This also shows that Alex Anthopoulos thinks very highly of our infield. Pretty much all of AA’s trade acquisitions since last deadline have been guys with above average groundball rates. Jonny Venters, Kevin Gausman, Melancon, Greene, and Martin are all above 50%. Brad Brach is the lone exception amongst guys traded for.
In terms of leverage, this is how I see the pen shaking out going forward:
I could see Swarzak being IL’ed if Jacob Webb is healthy and ready to come off the IL. And I would probably slide Webb into Swarzak’s spot if that happened.
No excuses, Snit! Use them right.