The Braves haven’t ruled out a Camargo return, as unlikely as it may seem. But his likely absence further dents the team’s options. The Braves still have plentiful choices to fill out their infield and outfield come October – Hechavarria, Ortega, Riley, Duvall, Billy Hamilton – as well as carrying a third catcher if desired.
But none possess the skill sets of Culberson and Camargo, one-man Swiss army knives who help the Braves match the Dodgers’ deep bench. The Dodgers’ depth advantage was among the glaring differences between the clubs last October.
“As we’re seeing today, (the bench is) still in transition a little bit,” Snitker said. “You can’t walk the halls without tripping on one of the guys who went down that had done such a good job. When Francisco (Cervelli) came up, when Camargo came back from Triple-A and how well he was doing. It’s tough to replace those guys this time of year.”
How the Braves construct their postseason roster is that much more intriguing. Now that they’ve lost their two most versatile bench players, perhaps they lean more towards an additional position player than a 12th pitcher.
Carrying three catchers is still on the table. How many outfielders do they need, with Hamilton a near lock to make the team for his speed while Riley and Duvall are competing for spots? How would Ender Inciarte affect that equation, with the gold glover a possibility to return in time for the postseason?
The Braves’ playoff bench isn’t nearly as clear as once thought, but they believe it’s still a strength and reason for optimism entering next month because it offers an aspect last year’s thinner group didn’t: options.