Finally, we look at a potential bullpen for the 2022 Atlanta Braves!
Relievers are the hardest to predict for several reasons, but the Braves could go several ways in creating a strong bullpen next season.
Will Smith is a divisive player across Braves country. No matter one’s opinion on Smith, he has one more year left at thirteen million dollars.
Unless he is somehow moved this winter, we should expect to see Smith in the Braves bullpen in 2022.
The newly acquired Richard Rodríguez comes with two more years of control, meaning he was a long-term acquisition for this bullpen. This is an easy one. He will join Smith in the back of the bullpen in 2022.
Luke Jackson has arguably been the most consistent member of the Braves bullpen in 2021. Something I doubt many predicted coming into the year.
Add in that he has one more year of control, and I think it is a safe bet to see Jackson back in the Braves bullpen in 2022.
I know that AJ Minter has had a shaky 2021 season. However, he got off to a great start out of the bullpen before falling apart. We know the talent is there. We are not that far removed from his epic game 5 in the NLCS.
Regardless of one’s opinion on Minter, he is a young lefty with control. If he does not fall apart over the next two months, whether in Gwinnett or Atlanta, he will get another shot in the big leagues in 2022.
Confidence: Virtual Lock
For Tyler Matzek’s reasoning, see AJ Minter. He has multiple years of control left, and will not cost a ton. He can also work multiple innings if needed. I do not think it is as much of a guarantee as Minter, but Matzek could benefit the Braves in 2022.
Confidence: Virtual Lock
Chris Martin has been great for the Braves overall. However, since June 15th (the day MLB sent out the memo regarding sticky substances), Martin has been bad.
Now, there is no way to know for sure if Martin was using spider tack or another foreign substance. There is a chance it was just a bad stretch.
He is getting up in age for a professional athlete, but think Martin has another year or two in him. I think there would be mutual interest between him and the Braves for a reunion in 2022.
Confidence: Somewhat High
It makes sense for the Braves to look for a veteran reliever to help round out the bullpen. I went with Ryan Tepera here, but they could easily go with a Rasiel Iglesias, Andrew Chafin, Sergio Romo, or whoever. They also have a few options to bring back such as Edgar Santana, Jesse Chavez, or Josh Tomlin.
Confidence: Dart Throw
I think Touki Toussaint is going to make an elite late-inning reliever one day. I hope I am wrong, and he finds a way to stick in the rotation, but his stuff screams bullpen.
He could be the sixth starter early in the year. I also think he could get the first opportunity to replace someone in the rotation whether by injury or someone struggling.
Touki just seems like a guy that is destined to end in a bullpen role. I really believe he could be an electric late-inning reliever.