With news that OF Nick Markakis has opted back in to the MLB season and will be returning soon (along with LHP Will Smith but not relevant to this topic), the Braves are going to be getting back a left-handed bat that could really help the team. But who will he be replacing? In an MLB world that has went all-in on the DH, playing time for 1/2 of the bench is seldom. And since every game counts, it’s likely not going to get better especially with Brian Snitker at the helm. This begs the question: Is the Braves Roster Built for the DH?
In the 7 games that the Braves have played in the 2020 season, Charlie Culberson has received 2 at-bats and Adeiny Hechavarria, 1. Scott Schebler, who has been with the team for 2 games, has received 0 at-bats. Adding Nick Markakis back to the pot likely removes the need for Schebler, but still leaves Hechavarria and Culberson without a clear line for any type of playing time. With news leaking that the union might be asking the 30-man roster to stick around for the entire 2020 season, let’s take a look at the current position players on the roster to see if there are better fits for an NL team in a DH world.
Hech and Charlie, The Lost Boys
We all know why both of these guys are here. Charlie is here as a RH bench bat that can play darn near anywhere and Hech is a backup SS whose stick played way up in September of last year. However, there’s redundancy here…
- Both are right-handed hitters
- Both are (primarily) backup infielders
- Neither are considered fast
When adding back Markakis, which I’d be willing to bet happens within a week, the DH spot is going to be a rotation of Marcell Ozuna, Austin Riley, Johan Camargo, and Matt Adams, with maybe glimpses of Travis d’Arnaud if his bat comes around. With Camargo’s ability to play the entire infield as well as being equipped to switch hit, his spot leaves little need for 1 backup infielder, much less 2, especially when they’re lacking elite speed.
Not so Fast?
If the roster shakes out like I think it will, Markakis will replace Scott Schebler, but is this what should happen? Does Schebler’s bat provide more than what Culberson’s or Hechavarria’s bat provides? Maybe the argument is Schebler’s bat provides less redundancy than Hech and Culberson, and therefore should be carried to give the Braves better options for late and close games. However, I’m still not sure that’s the route I would go for a transaction.
My choice would be Cristian Pache. The Braves have 0 speed on the bench and truly could use Pache’s defense in the outfield in late and close games, as well as his PH/PR capabilities (not to mention he should also get some starts in CF). The need for speed in this bizarre 60 game season is more than ever with the extra inning rule and Pache could provide a weapon that the Braves don’t currently have on the active roster.
Don’t be ANGRY!
While I like the guy and the player, Charlie Culberson seems to be the guy that just doesn’t fill a real need. Fans love him and rightfully so as he’s come up with so many big hits in the past, but he’s withering away on a bench that cannot get him at-bats and his only real use would be as a pinch runner and that is not what I’d call maximizing a skillset.
So in my mind, when Nick Markakis comes up, the Braves are going to be forced to re-evaluate what a bench should look like in a DH world. And when the dust settles, Charlie Culberson will be granted freedom and we as Braves fans will just have to be ok with that.
Check out our game thread and roster news from yesterday to get caught up on the latest moves. As always, thanks for reading!