A series of decisions made by the Braves over the weekend brought the team’s opening day roster into sharper focus.
Things can still change, including the possibility someone could be released by another organization and picked up by the Braves, but for now the roster for Thursday’s opener seems almost apparent.
“Just by the numbers we have in camp, it already is starting to position itself a certain way,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos acknowledged Sunday.
That is because of the Braves’ decisions to option outfielder Adam Duvall, relief pitcher Dan Winkler and starting-pitching prospect Touki Toussaint to Triple-A Gwinnett and the announcement that rookie pitchers Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright will start the second and third games of the season.
Here’s a projection of how the opening-day 25-man roster is shaping up, barring acquisitions or injuries before Thursday:
> Starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Bryse Wilson, Kyle Wright, Sean Newcomb and Max Fried.
> Relief pitchers: Arodys Vizcaino, Jonny Venters, Chad Sobotka, Shane Carle, Jesse Biddle, Luke Jackson, Josh Tomlin and Wes Parsons. (Fried also will be available in the bullpen during the opening series in Philadelphia.)
> Catchers: Brian McCann and Tyler Flowers.
> Infielders: Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson and Josh Donaldson.
> Outfielders: Ronald Acuna, Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis and possibly Matt Joyce (acquired Saturday from the San Francisco Giants).
> Utility: Johan Camargo and Charlie Culberson.
Pitchers Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, A.J. Minter and Darren O’Day will open the season on the injured list, formerly called the disabled list.
Barring setbacks, Gausman is slated to return to the active roster in time to start an April 5 home series opener against the Miami Marlins, and Minter could return around the same time. Also barring setbacks, Foltynewicz could be back in perhaps the third week of April.
The decisions to send Duvall, Winkler and Toussaint to Gwinnett were made just before the Braves left Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex for Sunday’s opening game at their new spring training facility in North Port.
“We just felt it was important to tell guys now,” Anthopoulos said.
Duvall, who hit 30-plus home runs for Cincinnati in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons, struggled in a backup role after the Braves acquired him at the trade deadline last July (.132 batting average and .344 OPS in 57 plate appearances). The Braves hope he can get back on track with regular playing time at Gwinnett and be a big-league asset later in the season.
“What we’re hoping is that he can take a deep breath, go back and play every day,” manager Brian Snitker said. “In the role we had for him, he wasn’t going to get it going, taking a pinch-hit at-bat every now and then. We really think … he needs to go and find his swing again. I mean, I’ve seen the guy really, really, really good.”
Winkler, who has a history of two major elbow injuries, was sent down primarily because the Braves consider him a one-inning pitcher and they were looking to carry relievers who can work longer outings if needed early in the season.
“If (Gausman and Foltynewicz) would have been in the rotation, I don’t know that we’d be making that move (with Winkler),” Snitker said. “It’s more about trying to keep guys we can use length with, because of the youth in the starting rotation.
“(Winkler) is a one-inning guy. It worked last year. It wasn’t going to work right now. We’re going to need him before this thing is all said and done.”
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