In recent years, the Braves have been lauded for accumulating so much pitching. It could pay off huge in 2020, when players like Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson and Touki Toussaint, among others, could have magnified roles.
“I don’t know that we’ll have time to get any starter ready for five or six innings (at the beginning),” manager Brian Snitker said. “Which is why it’ll be good to have the depth we do.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker addresses the "new normal" and how the team will take necessary precautions to stay safe as season starts amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Courtesy Atlanta Braves)
The Braves have 30 pitchers in their initial player pool (which maxes at 60 players). Opening day rosters will include 30 players with no limit on the number of pitchers a team can carry. The Braves have a strong mix to choose from, ranging from veteran All-Stars to highly touted prospects.
Teams always need as much pitching as possible, but that need is amplified now. The Braves are among the better positioned teams, and should they lose multiple pitchers at once, they seem to have the depth to withstand it.
The following Braves pitchers are available for the 2020 season:
Right-handed pitchers (18)
• Mike Soroka: Coming off his first All-Star appearance and a top-six Cy Young finish, Soroka is the Braves' ace at 22 years young. They'll count on him as their best pitcher this season — and likely in many to follow.
• Mike Foltynewicz: An All-Star in 2018, Foltynewicz hit rock bottom last season and was demoted to Triple-A. He came back with a resurgent second half and recaptured his form of two seasons ago. If that continues in 2020, the Braves' rotation will be formidable.
• Felix Hernandez: 'King Felix' has a fresh start after spending 15 years in Seattle. He competed for a rotation spot in the original spring training and seemed to earn the nod. Hernandez, barring unforeseen circumstances, will be on the Braves this season.
• Mark Melancon: The veteran righty slots in the back of a star-studded bullpen. He's the most accomplished Braves closer since Craig Kimbrel, earning three All-Star appearances and leading baseball with 51 saves in 2015.
• Shane Greene: An All-Star in 2019, Greene was one of three relievers who joined the Braves at last year's trade deadline. He boasts further closing experience the Braves once sorely needed.
• Chris Martin: Another 2019 deadline acquisition, Martin possesses impeccable command. In the past two seasons, Martin owns a 102:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 97-1/3 innings with the Rangers and Braves.
• Luke Jackson: Last season, Jackson became an important part of the bullpen. He closed games for a stretch, but the team's acquisitions shifted him into middle relief. That's where he'll be in 2020.
Braves pitcher Luke Jackson - sporting a healthy beard - says he has not shaved since spring camp was shut down for COVID-19, as he takes the field for the first workout of summer Friday, July 3, 2020, at Truist Park in Atlanta.
Credit: Curtis Compton
Credit: Curtis Compton
• Darren O'Day: Yet another reliever with an All-Star resume, O'Day came back from injury to pitch in eight games last year. If he's healthy — and he has been since late last season — the Braves expect O'Day to be a reliable performer and valuable veteran in the clubhouse.
• Josh Tomlin: The Braves re-signed Tomlin in February after the long-time Indians pitcher proved invaluable as a long reliever last season. With the Braves piggybacking pitchers early, Tomlin could be important again.
• Ian Anderson: The organization's top pitching prospect, Anderson was expected to make his major-league debut this season. He still could, but given the team's depth and his own development, he won't be part of the opening-day group.
• Touki Toussaint: In whatever ways the Braves use their pitching abundance, Toussaint is part of the equation. He's struggled to solidify a role in the majors, plagued by erratic command, but should have opportunities in the unique 2020 season. He's capable of starting and relieving, and like Tomlin, makes sense in piggybacking scenarios.
• Bryse Wilson: Falling under the same umbrella as Toussaint, Wilson hasn't established himself in the big leagues. In spring training, he was working to diversify his repertoire and rely less on the fastball. He's available as a starter and reliever.
• Kyle Wright: The team's No. 2 prospect, it's easy to forget Wright has only pitched in 11 MLB games. Like the aforementioned pair, Wright could play a pivotal role this season. He was having a strong spring for the second consecutive year and will be trying to earn serious consideration for a rotation spot in 2021.
• Patrick Weigel: With his injuries in the rear-view mirror, Weigel is an interesting option. The 6-foot-6, 240-pounder hasn't pitched in a major-league game yet but is one reason the Braves' pitching depth is considered so deep.
• Jacob Webb: Unexpectedly, Webb became a legitimate contributor in his rookie season. Webb had a 1.39 ERA with 28 strikeouts against 12 walks in 36 games last season before he required right-elbow surgery. The Braves were bringing him along slowly in the spring.
• Chad Sobotka: Tall and powerful, Sobotka's control issues have prevented his stats from aligning with his physique. He remains intriguing bullpen depth, nonetheless.
• Jasseel De La Cruz: While he hasn't yet pitched in the majors, De La Cruz could find himself playing a part in the shortened season, especially if several pitchers wind up unavailable for a stretch. Baseball America rated him the Braves' No. 11 prospect entering the season.
• Huascar Ynoa: While Ynoa spent time with the Braves last season, he didn't appear in a game. Like De La Cruz, he's available should the Braves be in a pinch.
Left-handed pitchers (12)
• Cole Hamels: Speaking with reporters Friday, Hamels says he's healthy and expects to be ready for opening day. The Braves signed the former World Series MVP hoping he'd provide a steady innings eater and guidance for the younger pitchers. One of the few benefits to baseball's delay, as far as the Braves are concerned, is that Hamels will be good to go.
» MARK BRADLEY: Cole Hamels says he's ready
Braves pitcher Cole Hamels throws from the mound during the first workout of summer Friday, July 3, 2020, at Truist Park in Atlanta.
Credit: Curtis Compton
Credit: Curtis Compton
• Max Fried: The California-born southpaw made strides last season, establishing himself in the rotation. Fried is trying to move into the next stage of his maturation. The Braves hope he and Soroka are important parts of their long-term outlook.
• Sean Newcomb: After finding himself in the bullpen last season, Newcomb was transitioning back into the rotation this spring (his preferred spot). Not even the Braves know how they'll handle their rotation yet, but it's reasonable to think Newcomb could fill both roles across the 60-game campaign.
• Will Smith: The Braves signed Smith, a 2019 All-Star, this offseason, bringing him home and banking on him completing one of the most impressive bullpens in baseball. The Braves surprised some when they declared Melancon would still get the bulk of save opportunities, but Smith will be deployed whenever needed, making him potentially the most valuable member of the bullpen.
• Tucker Davidson: Another player on the doorstep, Davidson broke out last season in the minors. There's a solid chance he pitches in the bigs at some point this season. Davidson is the Braves' 10th ranked prospect, per Baseball America.
• A.J. Minter: Once deemed the Braves' closer of the future, Minter didn't factor into the team's thinking last offseason. He posted a 7.06 ERA across 36 games last season, losing not only his closer job but his spot in the majors. Before he was optioned to minor-league camp in March, Snitker did praise Minter's progress and said he's "trending in the right direction."
• Kyle Muller: While Muller's command was wild in his spring appearances, the potential is obvious. The hard-throwing, towering lefty could become the Braves' next prized pitching prospect. But right now, he isn't ready to help a contending club.
• Philip Pfeifer: Among the more intriguing pitchers in camp, Pfeifer could help cover innings at some point this season. Pfeifer, 27, hasn't pitched in the majors but performed across three levels last season. He earned a 2.97 ERA in 133-1/3 innings as a starter and reliever.
• Chris Rusin: Brought in as a non-roster invitee, Rusin gave the Braves more veteran depth. He's pitched eight seasons with the Rockies and Cubs, pitching in 188 games (49 starts).
• Tyler Matzek: Matzek had a nice spring, collecting four scoreless outings. The 29-year-old has a 4.06 ERA across 25 career major-league appearances. He last pitched in the majors in 2015 with the Rockies.
• Grant Dayton: Dayton appeared in 14 games last season after missing the 2018 campaign. He allowed seven earned runs in 5-2/3 innings this spring. The new three-batter minimum rule hurts specialists like Dayton.
• Jared Shuster: The Braves selected Shuster at No. 25 overall in last month's draft. He'll train at the secondary camp in Gwinnett, getting his first experience in the organization, but he won't be part of the 2020 club.