With three weeks and counting until the Braves break camp, injuries over the last few days have certainly changed what the Opening Day roster could look like. Mike Foltynewicz, projected to be on the mound on March 28th in Philly for the season opener may end up starting the season on the Injured List, if he doesn’t have sufficient time to build up after a bout of elbow soreness. And, with four off days in the span of the first three and a half weeks of the season, the Braves wouldn’t technically need a fifth starter until April 7th, giving Folty the ability to get two more appearances under his belt in Minor League games. But, for now, let’s take an “all too early look” at what the Opening Day roster could look like:
Pitchers (13): Biddle, Carle, Freeman, Gausman, Minter, Newcomb, O’Day, Sobotka, Teheran, Toussaint, Venters, Vizcaino, Winkler.
Catchers (2): Flowers, McCann
Infielders (6): Albies, Camargo, Culberson, Donaldson, Freeman, Swanson
Outfielders (4): Acuna, Inciarte, Markakis, TBD
Let’s explain why and how we came to these conclusions. Again, this projection is based on Foltynewicz not being ready/healthy for Opening Day, and the ability to carry an extra reliever. Now, the next logical question is “who starts Opening Day if Folty is injured?” I’m glad you asked. While it seemed like a lock that Julio Teheran’s run of five consecutive Opening Day nods was coming to an end in 2019, that could be extended to six straight by default. I can’t see the club giving that nod to youngster Sean Newcomb or veteran Kevin Gausman. We also know Touki Toussaint wouldn’t be put in that situation, so by process of elimination, it could end up being Julio’s after all.
As far as the outfield is concerned, to me it’s still up in the air with Adam Duvall’s status still undecided. To this point in Spring, I don’t know that the club has seen enough from Duvall, who really struggled in a bench role when he was traded to Atlanta last July. Pedro Florimon is in camp as a non roster invitee, and has now only shown versatility but also a little more power in his bat than I initially expected. We all know the Braves love guys who can play multiple spots, so he’s at least a name to keep an eye on over the coming days and weeks. Entering play on Sunday, Duvall was hitless in his first ten Grapefruit League at bats with a pair of walks. And with his contract not being guaranteed, it’s certainly conceivable the team could look elsewhere for help as a fourth outfielder. The good news is, that even with a number of guys dealing with minor aches and pains, it doesn’t seem as if there’s reason to be overly concerned about any of the guys the team is taking it slow with this spring.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet