Hamels not healthy enough to start, who could the Braves turn to next?

Hamels not healthy enough to start, who could the Braves turn to next?
Atlanta Braves’ pitcher Cole Hamels works out during a baseball practice at Truist Park on Friday, July 3, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – When it comes to the first four in the Braves rotation, I feel pretty confident in saying Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz will be the first three out of the gate in the opening series against Jacob deGrom and the Mets at Citi Field two weeks from today. Sean Newcomb, who gave up a pair of solo homers in yesterdays intrasquad scrimmage, will likely find himself in the fourth spot, starting the series opener in Tampa. But, how will the fifth spot round out?

FILE – Alex Anthopoulos  (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

I asked Alex Anthopoulos recently and he was under the impression that Cole Hamels would be healthy enough to crack the starting staff. However, the first four have already gone through two turns in the order in the first week of workouts and sim games at Truist Park. However, Cole Hamels hasn’t progressed to the point where he can start and throw a couple innings of a scrimmage. “It’s day to day…we’re just going to be careful with them” Brian Snitker said on Thursday afternoon. For now, Hamels will continue throwing the side sessions, but isn’t to the point where the organization wants to push him into simulated game action.

So, let’s go with a worst-case scenario and say Hamels ISN’T ready to start the year in the rotation. Where could the team turn next? Veteran Josh Tomlin is back with the team, signing a minor league deal in the early days of Spring Training and could be utilized as the fifth starter until Hamels is ready. Also, youngster Kyle Wright, who had another strong spring session could have another opportunity to start the season in the rotation, as he did in 2019. Touki Toussaint had been viewed as a rotation candidate prior to his positive COVID-19 test, so you can effectively take him out of the running at this point as his status is still unknown. Another possibility between now and July 24th is that Hamels gets a chance to throw a couple of scrimmage outings and could potentially be built up to the three or four inning mark. In that instance, expect Tomlin or Wright to be utilized in a piggy-back scenario for his first few turns in the order.

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.