Charlie Culberson’s longshot Braves comeback bid is not going well

Charlie Culberson is running out of time to prove that he can make it as a pitcher with the Braves.
Chicago White Sox v Atlanta Braves
Chicago White Sox v Atlanta Braves / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

Every fanbase in baseball has a player that fans are almost inexplicably drawn to. The phrase "fan favorite" is thrown around a bit too much these days (of course fans are going to like good players, duh), but there are plenty of guys that get outsized fan support compared to what they have actually done on the field. In the case of the Braves, Charlie Culberson is near or at the top of the list of that type of guy.

Culberson has less than 500 plate appearances total with the Braves in his career with his 2018 campaign being his best performance-wise, but there is a section of Braves Country that absolutely loves him. A big part of that is because he is a local Georgia product, but he also had some clutch moments that Braves fans remember as well. You can still find fans that wish he was the team's starting shortstop right now.

However, Culberson found himself at a career crossroads heading into this season. His services as a position player were not in demand, but he wanted to continue playing in the big leagues. So, in an attempt to defy the odds, Culberson decided to try his hand at being a relief pitcher full-time instead of just in blowouts. Unfortunately for Culberson, his comeback bid has not gone well this spring.

Don't expect to see Charlie Culberson in the Braves' bullpen anytime soon

While the odds were always stacked against Culberson given that he is about to turn 35 and converting to being a pitcher is tough enough under the best of circumstances, the idea behind Culberson becoming a pitcher was surprisingly sound. His fastball generally sits in the low 90's and he can spin a pretty nice slider. For a guy that has been a position player his entire career, his chances for success were not zero.

Unfortunately, spring training has not been kind to Culberson's quest to make it to the big leagues as a reliever. While it is an admittedly small sample of two appearances in camp, he has given up four runs in just 1.2 innings of work with more walks than strikeouts. That he has only gotten a pair of appearances probably speaks to where the Braves think he is right now more than anything else.

At this point, counting Culberson out probably isn't wise as he always seems to find a way back. Assuming he is amenable to spending more time in the minor leagues, there is a chance that he rounds into form as a reliever that could get an opportunity sometime in 2024. However, the odds remain stacked against him and at his age and stage of his career, he is unfortunately running out of time.

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