3. Braves Bullpen Woes
The Braves stayed quiet this offseason as far as the bullpen was concerned. Rumors of Craig Kimbrel surrounded the Braves offseason but never came to fruition. Darren O’Day, a pitcher the Braves traded for last season, but was out with an injury when the trade occurred, will be returning from injury this season so he may add a boost the Braves need for the long road ahead. But there were still concerns.
The Braves bullpen was shaky last season, and it seems like that same issue has followed this team into this season, too.
After Julio exited, Shane Carle entered the game for relief. Carle couldn’t make it through an entire inning after coming into the game. He threw 25 pitches, gave up one hit, and gave up three runs when Maikel Franco took him deep to extend the Phillies lead. That home run put the Phillies up 6-1, all but out of reach. The Braves were able to claw back when Matt Joyce went deep to cut the lead in half, but the bullpen wasn’t done.
Luke Jackson came into to deal with the 7th inning, but he couldn’t finish the inning without getting touched up in a big way. Rhys Hoskins came up with the bases loaded and cleared them all by going deep, making the score 10-3. The game was out of reach at that point.
The Braves bullpen is a glaring weakness for this team. The Braves will struggle all season if the starters can’t go deep into games with high pitch counts and the bullpen will have to do the heavy lifting. Maybe the plan is to bring some of the young prospects up who aren’t ready to start or sign a player like Craig Kimbrel to come to lighten the load.
Whatever the plan might be, I hope they have one. The Braves won’t win with this bullpen as it’s constructed today. The Opening Day slaughter from the Phillies is just an indicator of what the Braves bullpen will have to deal all season.