MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Tuesday night’s Braves game was yet another cruel reminder of what this season was all about.
First, it was a roller coaster of emotions. The Braves got the lead, on the road in Los Angeles against the Angels. Then they relinquished it on a three-run home run, and then they fell apart with a horrific inning that saw the Angels score nine runs. That inning was like the scene in the Bad News Bears, and as Brian Jordan said on the post-game show, Braves manager Brian Snitker probably felt like Buttermaker, the manager of Chico’s Bail Bonds in the legendary movie.
The Braves made three errors in that third inning and made two more bad plays that could have been called errors. It was sloppy. The bad defense gave starting pitcher Bartolo Colon an excuse for his bad performance. Sure, Colon could have been out of that third inning if Jace Peterson had made a play on a double-play ball, but even after that happened Colon gave up a three-run home run to Albert Pujols. He then gave up four more singles and walked another batter to extend the inning.
Snitker said after the game he didn’t know how to really characterize the performance by Colon, since the errors did give him the excuse. Regardless, the performance continues the discussion of how much longer the Braves will stick with Colon in the rotation. Remember, the Braves signed Colon and R.A. Dickey and traded for Jaime Garcia to be simple placeholders in the rotation until some of the young pitchers are ready to go.
It was almost like the Braves went to a temp agency to look for temporary employees, just like you may do for your business. They were just looking for temp pitchers to be in the rotation this season and this season only. But of all the decisions this front office must make in this rebuilding process, the call of when to bring up the young starting pitching prospects will be the most crucial decision. They want these pitching prospects, who have been at the forefront of the rebuild, to not be rushed. They want them to be ready, but that’s always a tough call.
It’s not always about how many innings a prospect has in the minor leagues, but instead whether that pitcher has the stuff and the mental makeup to get people out in the major leagues. And it’s about whether the young pitcher can survive being knocked around early in their career. Remember when Tom Glavine went 7-17 in his first full season? He survived that. What about when John Smoltz started the 1991 season at 2-9? Well, he rebounded to pitch so well he was the starter in Game 7 of the World Series. Both of those guys survived to have Hall of Fame careers.
Young pitchers struggle, and you have to be convinced these prospects can take that. When the Braves feel like they are ready, they will replace Colon in the rotation. They have Sean Newcomb and Lucas Sims in Triple-A, and believe me, the Braves are close to pulling the trigger and bringing them to the big leagues. The Braves could always use Matt Wisler in the rotation until the kids are ready.
Colon may get a reprieve, another start next week because of how Tuesday’s game unfolded, but his time is coming to an end in Atlanta’s rotation – just like a temporary employee – a temp – who is no longer needed at work.