Is Charlie Culberson a genuine bullpen option for the Atlanta Braves in 2024?

Charlie Culberson has surprisingly impressive stuff but should the Braves consider giving him a shot in Spring Training?
Washington Nationals  v Atlanta Braves - Game Two
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves - Game Two / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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What about his results?

Charlie Culberson
Chicago White Sox v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

A pitcher can have nice-looking spin rates, but that doesn't mean much if it doesn't translate to results.

With Culberson, the sample size is small and a 4.91 ERA isn't exciting. Neither is a 9.1% walk rate. But, there still are promising signs.

First of all, his strikeout rate is 22.7%. This is slightly below the average for relievers of 23.6%. Culberson does have a 12.27 K/9, but the number of batters faced dilutes the overall percentage.

Secondly is the high BABIP. Culberson did not allow a homer this year, but a sky-high .400 BABIP that included hitters going 3-3 on groundballs. The average BABIP on grounders this year in the NL was .241.

Of course, Culberson is pitching against AAA hitters and not major league hitters, but, as we know, the fan favorite has already pitched several games at the major league level.

As a position player, the righty has a 1.23 ERA and a 4.12 FIP. He has only picked up the one strikeout, but he's kept the ball in the ballpark and still hasn't allowed a homer in 7.1 innings.

So... Is Culberson a legit option for the Braves bullpen in 2024?

Charlie Culberson has two pitches with elite spin rates. That alone warrants a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training for the Braves.

Culberson should not be overlooked simply because he is a former (current?) position player. There have been several position players within the last decade who have made the majors and then converted to the mound. Javy Guerra came up as a shortstop, and Jason Lane and Anthony Gose came up as outfielders.

However, whether he makes the team is up to his performance. In the majors and minors, he hasn't consistently thrown strikes or gotten batters to chase. He was in the zone 43.8% of the time this season, slightly above the 41.9% MLB average, but he only got batters to chase 28.6% of the time, lower than the 31.9% average.

If Culberson can increase Zone% without sacrificing contact quality or increase chases, there's a good shot we see him in Atlanta on the mound next season.