The Atlanta Braves figure to be active ahead of the trade deadline on August 1st. An area contending teams are always looking to improve on.
A cheaper target that could make sense would be Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen will be a free agent after the year, meaning he is a pure rental. He figures to be one of the more cost-friendly options on the market this season.
While Lorenzen started his career working mostly out of the bullpen, he has worked exclusively as a starter for the past two seasons. This year, he has made 18 starts, with 105.2 innings pitched, which comes with a 3.58 ERA, 4.20 xERA, 3.89 FIP, 4.22 xFIP, and 4.45 SIERA. The peripherals suggest he is a bit lucky, but a 122 ERA+ is still a 122 ERA+.
As a 5th starter, even if he regressed to an ERA closer to 4.20, that would be beneficial to the Braves down the stretch. He would also be able to transition into the bullpen as we moved into the postseason, which would help him serve two purposes for the team down the stretch.
Hey, he also has 7 career home runs, so maybe he can be a bench bat too! Shohei Ohtani who?
I am kidding about that last part.
However, if the Braves wanted to shop in the bargain bin, and find someone that could help eat innings, Lorenzen does make some sense. Assuming the Braves hold a nice division lead, an innings eater would allow the Braves to save some innings for guys like Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder.
Spencer Strider currently sits at 123 innings pitched. He threw 131.2 innings last year. While the Braves said last year there was no innings limit set for Strider and they have made no indication of that this year. They probably do not want him flying past that career-high mark. Saving 15-20 innings for October would help.
Elder is in a similar boat. Last year between AAA and the majors, Elder threw 159 innings. He is currently at 120.2 innings counting his one AAA start. He is not as hard of a thrower as Strider but it would still be nice to not have him rush up to 180-190 innings leading into the postseason.
Going to a six-man rotation with Lorenzen could help them essentially miss a couple of starts, saving a few innings for their arms in October, without forcing them to get out of rhythm but finding an "injury" to shut them down for a few weeks.
While Lorenzen is nothing more than a back-end innings eater type, his fastball and slider have both been positive pitches according to Run-Value. They sit at 11 and 6 respectively. This means if he moved into the bullpen later, the fastball/slider combo could be even better in shorter bursts.
It would not be viewed as a blockbuster. It would simply be an under-the-radar type acquisition to help the Braves save some innings over the last two months. It would not cost much at all in terms of prospect capital, which is something the Braves organization does not have much of.