With the roster getting overfull following the acquisition of Brad Brach, the Braves have swapped one active reliever for another by sending southpaw Sam Freeman to the 10-day DL.
In order to make room on the active roster, the club placed LHP Sam Freeman on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to July 29, with left shoulder inflammation.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 30, 2018
This move will no doubt make much of Braves Country happy, as Freeman had become somewhat of a familiar whipping boy during much of the 2018 season. After a surprisingly successful 2017 in which he didn’t even make the Opening Day roster (59 ERA-, 78 FIP-, 92 xFIP-), Freeman limped along through much of 2018 to date (135 ERA-, 103 FIP-, 100 xFIP-). Of course, the notable thing in those stat arrays is that by an xFIP basis, he actually hasn’t bee much worse in 2018 than he was in 2017 — rather, his extra-high strand rate and previously low-ish BABIP have caught up to him, and his strand rate has actually severely reversed course (from a too-high 80% to a too-low 62%). Improper usage also didn’t help matters: Freeman has faced 102 righties (4.47 xFIP against) this season compared to just 71 lefties (3.59 xFIP against) so far in 2018.
Freeman now gets a chance to take a breather after the additions of Jonny Venters and Brad Brach buttress the bullpen. His 49 appearances are tied for the 17th-most in baseball, so there’s the hope that with some combination of rest, better usage going forward, and normalization in his strand rate, he can return to at least being a passable reliever for the Braves down stretch.
Of course, the Braves could also add further relief help ahead of tomorrow’s Trade Deadline and obviate the need for Sam Freeman altogether, though this seems unlikely given that the bullpen is still carrying arms such as Luke Jackson. In any case, stay tuned, as the bullpen picture is probably not done morphing yet.