The Atlanta Braves need help in the bullpen, but they already have an upgrade that no one is talking about.
The bullpen has been a major question mark for the Atlanta Braves throughout the offseason, It has been expected that an upgrade would be coming, either in the form of a return of Craig Kimbrel, or other options to solidify the latter part of the game. Yet, to this point, no moves have been forthcoming.
Meanwhile, relievers have slowly, but steadily, been coming off the board. While Kimbrel remains unsigned, likely due to his contract demands, other possible options for the ninth inning have been getting snapped up. The likes of David Robertson, Jeurys Familia, Adam Ottavino, and other possible options for the Braves are no longer available. The bullpen remains a weakness, and one that has not been addressed.
There is hope forthcoming. While the Braves may not be signing or trading for relief options, they do have a reinforcement coming soon. Darren O’Day, acquired as part of the trade to bring Kevin Gausman to the Braves, is expected to be ready at the start of Spring Training.
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The 36 year old O’Day is a forgotten part of the Braves relief corps, which is understandable considering that he never threw a pitch for Atlanta after being acquired. He had undergone season ending surgery on his hamstring in June, but is still in the final year of his four year, $31 million contract signed with the Orioles.
When he was healthy, O’Day was his typically solid self. He posted a respectable 3.60 ERA and a 1.100 WHiP, striking out 27 batters with just four walks over his 20 innings. O’Day also notched two saves, and while he may not be in line to close out many games for Atlanta, but his experience in the role could help should Arodys Vizcaino falter, or A.J. Minter is not ready to take over the ninth inning.
As it stands, the Braves have a solid enough bullpen. While reinforcements would be useful, the duo of Vizcaino and Minter, along with Jonny Venters and Dan Winkler, are a solid group. Adding O’Day, and his ability to dominate right handed batters, only makes that bullpen stronger. That needed reinforcement may already be on hand.
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It is easy to forget Darren O’Day as a part of the Atlanta Braves bullpen. Nonetheless, he could be that upgrade they need.