This summer, Atlanta Braves fans wondered what happened to Charlie Culberson as he just seemed to disappear. After signing a minor league contract in August, he wouldn't appear in another game until mid-September and when he did, it wasn't as a position player. As it turned out, he was working on becoming a pitcher.
At first glance, it seems absurd that a journeyman utility player would even try switching positions at 34 years old, but Culberson's conversion to the mound wasn't something the Braves were allowing as a favor.
Although his 4.91 ERA in 3.2 innings this year in AAA doesn't seem spectacular, Culberson might have a deadly pitch mix that the Braves should consider this Spring Training.
What this article is not arguing for
Before I explain why I think Charlie Culberson could be a viable option for the Braves bullpen in 2024 and not simply fan service, I want to clarify what the article is not arguing for.
- It is not arguing that Culberson will be an elite, high-leverage reliever.
- It is not arguing that Culberson will have a 2.50 ERA or better.
- It is not arguing that Culberson will be an All-Star-level pitcher.
- It is not arguing that Culberson is the missing piece that will deliver the Braves another championship.
Great teams still need pitchers who can provide useful innings in low-leverage, and Charlie Culberson could be an inexpensive, low-leverage option that could surprise teams the same way Jesse Chavez or Dylan Lee have in recent years.