Okay, the Braves are going to carry seven relievers. (Why? Because, that’s why. But Bobby only really used four relievers last year anyway. Shut up!) Anyway, we know who five of them will be, barring injury: Wagner, Saito, Moylan, O’Flaherty, and Medlen. It sure looks like the secondary, or tertiary if you count Wagner, lefty will be Joseph Albert Reyes. Jo-Jo has looked good in spring training, and more importantly in about 42 innings worth of work against lefties in the majors has allowed them to hit .210 while striking out two and a half for every walk and just about one per inning. I think he has the talent for more, but I also think he can thrive in that role.
That leaves the last spot, which will probably go to a righthander. Last week, DOB mentioned that the Braves were leaning towards keeping Jesse Chavez (who still does not have a show on the Disney Channel) despite his early spring training struggles, because they remembered that they liked him when they scouted him. Naturally, I approved, but then he gave up five runs on six hits to a bunch of Pirates minor leaguers, recording only one out, and you have to figure that the Braves would have to notice that. At any rate, I had to wonder why the Braves liked him in the first place. To my eyes he looks like the New Gryboski, in that while he is supposedly “talented” in that he throws hard, he can’t actually leverage that into striking anyone out, and a righthanded reliever who doesn’t strike anyone out is worse than useless.
Scott Proctor has thrown only two innings of major league work this spring, and you have to figure that if the Braves really wanted him to be on the opening day roster, they would have used him more, as they’re running out of spring training to work him in. At any rate, you should probably expect him to be brought up sooner or later, probably the former. (P.W. Hjort also points out that if Proctor stays down for 22 days, the Braves control him for another year at the arbitration price. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing; it might be better to have the opportunity to maybe get draft picks for Proctor if he leaves as a free agent. I figure if he’s not good enough for someone else to sign, he’s not good enough for the Braves to offer him arbitration.)
Wimbrel Kimbrel has looked impressive at times this spring, and you certainly can see why the Braves are so high on him and why they promoted him so aggressively last year. However, you can also tell that he really has no idea where the ball is going most of the time, and that he needs a lot more polishing before you want him up in games that matter. (One caveat to the “spring training statistics don’t matter” rule: When a guy has as many walks as innings pitched in spring training, mostly pitching at the end of games when everybody just wants to get them over with, he’s wild.)
Manny Acosta has been Manny Acosta this spring, only more so. He certainly doesn’t seem to have learned anything this offseason.
I didn’t mention Jonny Venters in my original post because I had no idea he would get a real shot this spring. However, the 25-year-old lefty, a starter in the minors, has impressed this spring, impressed enough that while more prominent candidates for the bullpen were part of the second round of cuts he was retained. However, he is probably behind Jo-Jo, and the Braves probably don’t want to keep another lefty in this spot. (Why? Shut up!)
Here’s another take on these guys. He’s closer to the situation than I am, certainly, but I have to think they’d want a lefty other than O’Flaherty in middle relief.