Yesterday, the Atlanta Braves added righty reliever Pierce Johnson from Colorado and lefty bullpen arm Taylor Hearn from Texas. Both players have a couple of plus pitches, but GM Alex Anthopoulos hinted there he might have more deals in the pipeline.
The bullpen could use a lefty reliever with late-inning experience, but dreams of Josh Hader are fantasies. With Raisel Iglesias under control for two more seasons, Hader is an expensive rental.
Anyone costing one or more of the best prospects remaining in the Braves system has to offer what Anthopoulos describes as having a long-term impact that makes sense to acquire right now. With that in mind, I rounded up a few left-handed under-the-radar options, and here they are, in alphabetical order.
The Atlanta Braves saw Aaron Bummer throw two clean innings enticing Ronald Acuna Jr. to pop out, then strike out Ozzie Albies, Matt Olson, and Travis d’Arnaud, when the White Sox ruined the Braves weekend.
Bummer’s thrown 34 1/3 innings, struck out 43, walked 17, posts a 55.4% groundball rate, a 30.3% chase rate, and hasn’t given up a home run since Eugenio Suarez touched him up on September 7, 2022.
Statcast puts his rates barrel- rate in the 100th percentile, his expected slug in the 98th percentile, and he’s pitching to a 2.35 FIP. Those metrics make it hard to understand how he’s carrying a 6.82 ERA, but I think I have at least part of the answer, Bummer is carrying a .355 BAbip, much of it due to a White Sox defense that is. . . shaky at best.
The White Sox have mixed and matched in the outfield over the last three seasons. The outfield’s –5 DRS ranks 21st in MLB, they’re 19th in outs above average, and UZR ranks them 23rd. Balls that should get caught don’t and go for extra bases.
The White Sox Infield is also underwhelming. The DRS ranks the Sox 25th in baseball with a –6DRS. A groundball pitcher, like Bummer, needs dependable infield defense. Positionally the Sox don’t offer that:
- Second base defense’ - 6DRS is 23 in baseball,
- Shortstop defense is –11 is 26th,
- Third base defense’s –6 DRS is 24th, and
- catching’s –6 puts it in 25th place
Put Bummer on the bump in front of the Atlanta Braves’ defense, and his ERA will drop quickly.
Bummer is 29, signed through 2024m for $3.5M to a contract with two option years at $7.6M.