Lucas Sims was close to making the Braves’ roster.
Then March 22 happened.
Sims, pitching his final start of the spring, was annihilated by the Cardinals. He allowed eight runs (six earned) on four hits, two of which left the park, surviving three innings in an 8-2 loss.
The dreadful performance capped off a disappointing spring. Sims posted a 10.13 ERA in six games (two starts).
“You give guys opportunities and you want them to run with them. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t,” Braves manager Brian Snitker candidly said following Sims’ last outing.
Snitker revealed (or rather, confirmed) Monday that Sims’ rough finish made it difficult to put him in the initial eight-man bullpen.
“Quite honestly, he was probably a good outing away from making this team,” Snitker said.
But now the Lawrenceville native is back in Atlanta, recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett Sunday in place of reliever Luke Jackson, who struggled mightily in two appearances. The Braves’ bullpen was among its greatest strengths prior to Saturday’s meltdown in Chicago, when the team let a 10-2 lead slip away in frigid conditions.
Despite the rocky spring, Snitker felt confident Sims will be an asset to the group.
“Lucas is a very versatile guy. No. 1, he comes in and adds length,” Snitker said. “I really like how he competes. He’s made some adjustments in his delivery, I think, over the spring that the guys really like.”
The Braves signed veteran Anibal Sanchez late in spring, and the 34-year-old swingman took the fifth starter spot after Sims, Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair failed to impress.
Any of the three could’ve made the bullpen, but the Braves instead decided to put them in the Triple-A rotation to get stretched out for when they’re needed.
“Then the thought was, we might need (Sims) down the road for this situation or to make a spot start,” Snitker said. “We didn’t know at the time, when the fifth start came up, who exactly it was going to be because we brought Anibal (Sanchez) on.”
Sanchez’s first start, which came April 7, could’ve been delayed if he was needed out of the bullpen. Had that been the case, Sims might’ve been the first man up.
“Even when we’d brought (Sanchez) up here, if we’d have had to use him (as a reliever), he might not have been ready for that, but we always felt like a guy like Lucas was,” Snitker said. “His experience, he’s already been there, done that. He adds a lot of versatility to your club.”