They come and they go, these Braves arms. They have their moment in the sun. And then they fall back into an amorphous mass of potential.
Or worse, they go to Gwinnett.
Or just vanish.
Such is life with a team that has stockpiled pitchers the way a survivalist hordes Vienna sausage.
One day their line in the box score can read like computer code, all zeroes and ones. The next, it reads like a phone number.
Maybe you can tell: I am suffering from pitcher fatigue. It is a condition in which one face on the mound becomes indistinguishable from the next. I am supposed to keep current on all those wearing home-team colors; it’s part of the job description. But I can’t anymore. I have lost the ability to tell the difference between Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright. Or is that Kyle Wilson and Bryse Wright?
Unless your first name is Touki (as in Toussaint), it is almost impossible to keep straight all those who the Braves recently have employed in an attempt to secure a few precious outs.
Being a young pitcher for the Braves is the ultimate temp work, only with better benefits. You do not dare get to know them, for tomorrow they may be in Texas, for whom Kolby Allard is supposed to start later this week.
All I know for sure is that there's Mike Soroka — never to be confused for Chad Sobotka — and Dallas Keuchel. Everyone else who has thrown a pitch for the Braves this season comes with some kind of question mark as this team edges nearer the postseason. Even old standbys such as Julio Teheran, as was shown last postseason, can be as dispensable as a plastic razor.
The names of those souls who have braved the regular commute between Coolray Field in Gwinnett and SunTrust in Cobb this season are many but not exactly etched into memory: Wilson; Wright; Shane Carle; Sobotka; Toussaint; Jacob Webb; Wes Parsons; A.J. Minter.
Darren O’Day haunts the clubhouse as an injured apparition.
Dan Winkler has been traded for another arm.
And where have you gone Luiz Gohara?
And I’m sure I’m missing 10 or 12 others. Who, other than a forensic accountant or very expert card counter, can keep track?
This condition of pitcher fatigue is inescapable, really. Blame the way the game is played these days: Hoping a starter can go five innings and then backfilling with an ever-changing assortment of almost interchangeable parts. It seems that every team’s bullpen is a massive unknown, and that relievers are more than ever simply furniture to be moved about on a whim.
It also speaks to the way the Braves specifically went about their rebuild, basing it on getting pitching in bulk, like paper towels at Costco. There is not room for them all. Many will fall by the wayside because that is the way of young pitching. So, the Braves bring them along — and keep bringing them along — looking for a hot hand at the right time. A good deal of trial and error, bases on balls and general identity confusion is to be expected.
The result is a roster so fluid that it if you hold it up to your ear you can hear the sound of waves breaking.
All I know for sure is that somebody will be tasked with throwing the ball when it’s the other team’s turn to bat. Beyond that, don’t ask. I’m tired. I’m done.
The only cure, of course, is finding a few more pitchers who can separate themselves from the amorphous mass here in the waning months of a season. Somebody dependable. Some arms that might serve as a logical bridge to the last out.
The Braves were going after just that sort of reliability when they acquired three more veteran relievers at the trade deadline. Maybe they will provide some sense of stability and identity on this staff. A tonic, perhaps, for pitcher fatigue.
Although I wouldn't go shopping for a Shane Greene Braves jersey just yet.
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