The Atlanta Braves are a lot better now than they were before the trade deadline. There is no doubt about it
One area that may be puzzling to some, is that only one relief pitcher was picked up at the deadline. It is true, the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen has been playing better as of late. Even with recent success, it is clear that the bullpen is an area of need, not just this season, but next as well.
Who will still be on the Atlanta Braves’ roster in 2022?
The Atlanta Braves will have plenty of options on who to keep in regards to relief pitching with almost all of the arms under contract, arbitration-eligible, or under team control.
There are also a few players on the fence on who will return via arbitration. Chris Martin will be expensive in arbitration having already having a salary of $7 million dollars this year. On top of that, since the June 15th foreign substance memo, there are some serious red flags. Since that date, Martin has regressed heavily with a 4.73 ERA, and hitters are slashing .346/.382/.481 against him.
Grant Dayton, although injured and only appearing in 13 games thus far, most likely will not be part of the picture next season with a 6.23 ERA and 1.615 WHIP in his small sample size of 13 innings pitched.
The perfect free agent candidate for the Atlanta Braves
If the Atlanta Braves want to improve in the offseason, it is obvious that they will need to add some relief options. Not only will they be losing some players, but they need to upgrade performance as well.
If we look at just pure ERA, the current relief arms on the team are not terrible. However, with 22 losses on the season, it is not a stretch to say that they crumble in high leverage situations.
Raisel Iglesias fits the mold of the Atlanta Braves’ need perfectly. Since 2016, he has only had an ERA+ below 148 once, and it was still 15% above average at 115 in 2019. In the past 2 seasons he has been on another level.
In 71.1 innings since the start of 2020
- 2.0 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which is exceptional for a relief arm
- 159 ERA+ (59 % better than league average)
- A measly 2.71 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP)
- 8 strikeouts per 1 walk
- .893 WHIP
- 13.1 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched
- 30 saves
It was a bit shocking that the Angels did not capitalize on him at the trade deadline with so many teams wanting relief help. To be fair, maybe the Angels are hoping once Mike Trout returns they can make a wild card push, although unlikely.
His peripherals show his output is no fluke
It is true that there is some fortune involved with statistics like ERA where a pitcher is aided with exceptional defense, a pitcher-friendly park, or other variables. This is why it is important to also factor in a player’s expectancy stats, to help measure true performance based on the player’s performance alone.
Iglesias’ peripherals in 2021, according to Baseball Savant, show that his output has been no fluke:
- Swing and miss percentage (Whiff%) – top 99%
- Expected ERA (xERA) – top 97% of MLB
- Expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) – top 97%
- Expected batting average against (xBA) – top 96%
- Average Exit Velocity Against – top 89%
- Expected slugging% against (xSLG) – top 84%
No one currently on the Atlanta Braves’ roster is close to these numbers. Richard Rodriguez had similar numbers before June 15th, but he has regressed hard with a 4.85 ERA and was likely using a sticky substance.
Of course, the Atlanta Braves front office will need to weigh the financial cost and the other holes they need to fill, but Raisel Iglesias should be on the top of their wish list.
Post in the comments what you think his contract demands will be!