The Braves had an overflowing bullpen Friday night after recalling right-hander Ryan Weber from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the roster spot created when starter Matt Wisler was optioned to Triple-A after Thursday night’s loss to the Phillies.
The addition of Weber to the bullpen — that’s how he’ll be used, for now — gave the Braves a highly unusual 10 relief pitchers on the 25-man roster for Friday’s game against the Phillies, along with three starting pitchers (they’ve not yet replaced starters Lucas Harrell, who was traded Wednesday, or Wisler).
That bullpen roster will be reduced to nine by Sunday when they add a starter; Casey Kelly from Triple-A is a leading candidate for that assignment. That is, if it’s not trimmed earlier than that via trade, with veteran Jim Johnson a leading candidate to be moved before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
They could have added an extra position player instead of another reliever Friday, but Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said that possibility was only briefly discussed. Team officials decided they’d rather have the extra arm in the bullpen, since starters haven’t been going deep into games on a regular basis lately and since the Braves have leaned heavily on a few core relievers recently.
Braves starters lasted fewer than six innings in six out of the past seven games before Friday, with Harrell’s six-inning start Tuesday at Minnesota their longest in that stretch. Meanwhile, Braves relievers entered Friday with a streak of 15 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, with 18 strikeouts and two walks.
“We talked about (adding a position player Friday), but just feel like we need to have as many arms as we can down there to cover innings,” Snitker said. “With starters going three, four and five innings, it’s a lot (for relievers). Can’t run Mo (rookie Mauricio Cabrera) and (Chris) Withrow and them (other key relievers) out there every day. It’s just not fair to them, and we want to keep them around for a while.
“Don’t know what we’re going to do tonight (Friday), but if we could give them guys another (rest) day it would be good, in the big scheme of things. Until we get some consistency out of starters and get them deeper in games, it’s hard not to have as many guys as you can down there (in the bullpen).”
Having extra arms in the bullpen allows Snitker to use the matchups he likes to utilize and still give rest to a reliever or two who’s been used a lot lately.
“Exactly,” he said. “But those (core) guys have done a really good job, and when we have a chance to win a game you kind of hate to stay away from them.”