It takes a village to win a division title, and the 2019 Atlanta Braves have certainly demonstrated that. After rolling out a questionable cast of characters on the Opening Day roster - partially due to injuries, but also partially related to some head-scratching decisions - the Braves proved they would not be bashful about making incremental tweaks to the club during the season. For as much fanfare as was brought with the acquisitions of Dallas Keuchel, Chris Martin, Shane Greene, and Mark Melancon, a handful of Major Leaguers and Minor Leaguers alike were sent elsewhere in the name of improving the team.
It is easy to forget how many casualties fell by the wayside during the 2019 NL East title. Let’s check in on some old friends.
Kevin Gausman, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Gausman showed promise at multiple points of his year with the Braves, but ultimately proved to be frustrating due to inconsistencies. So when the Reds claimed him off waivers on August 5, few tears were shed in Braves Country. Working primarily in relief with Cincinnati, Gausman has seen a spike in his strikeouts (12.23 K’s per nine innings) and a drop in his walks (1.53 per nine), but has still struggled with the home run ball in tiny Great American Ballpark. His ERA (5.09) and FIP (3.39) with the Reds are both better than his 2019 tenure with the Braves, but it wouldn’t have taken much.
Kolby Allard, LHP, Texas Rangers
Allard was likely never going to get a fair shot in Atlanta, so when upgrading the bullpen through the acquisition of Chris Martin on July 30, the Braves shipped Allard to the Texas Rangers. Given an opportunity to flourish in the Rangers’ rotation, he has posted a 4-1 record with a 4.25 ERA | 3.74 FIP. Even with the three mile-per-hour velocity spike Allard saw once he moved to Texas, his strikeout numbers are still somewhat underwhelming (6.80 K/9). He has been worth 1.2 fWAR in his first eight starts with the Rangers, and will likely continue to be a back-of-the rotation fixture for them moving forward.
Travis Demeritte, OF, Detroit Tigers
Demeritte’s resurgence was one of the best stories of the Braves’ Minor League season. Written off after two mediocre seasons in Double-A Mississippi, Demeritte flashed the tools that once had him ranked as a Top 10 prospect in the Braves’ system. After mashing 20 home runs in 96 games for the Gwinnett Stripers, Demeritte was part of the package that brought Shane Greene to Atlanta. Demeritte was immediately given his first taste of the big leagues after the trade and performed well, posting a .292/.356/.492 slash line with seven extra base hits (two home runs) and 120 wRC+ through his first 18 games. Things have gone sideways since then, slashing .167/.219/.233 with four XBH (one home run) and 17 wRC+ over the 27 games since. As long as he continues to struggle with strikeouts (34.1%) - his biggest hurdle as an amateur - he will have trouble reaching his true ceiling.
Joey Wentz, LHP, Erie Seawolves (Detroit Tigers’ AA affiliate)
The second half of the Greene-to-the-Braves package was promising Minor League southpaw Joey Wentz, who had rediscovered his proclivity for the strikeout shortly before the trade. He continued his good work when he was assigned to the Erie Seawolves (Detroit’s Double-A affiliate), not allowing more than two earned runs during any of his five starts. After the trade, Wentz went 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA | 2.27 FIP, with an eye popping 12.97 K/9 and a 1.40 BB/9. It is most assuredly a small sample size, but if he keeps up numbers like those, Wentz could find himself in Detroit at some point in 2020.
Tristan Beck, RHP, San Jose Giants (San Francisco Giants’ A+ affiliate)
Before being traded to the Giants in the Mark Melancon deal, Beck’s peripherals indicated he was pitching much better than his surface numbers would indicate - and, since being sent to High-A San Jose, those surface numbers have normalized. His ERA was cut in half (from 5.65 to 2.27), helped largely by a left-on-base rate that spiked from 60.5% to 83.3%, and a BABIP that dropped from .414 to .337. During his post-Braves experience, Beck has gone 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA | 3.13 FIP, and is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League.
Dan Winkler, RHP, Sacramento River Cats (San Francisco Giants’ AAA affiliate)
Winkler’s tenure in the Atlanta bullpen was uneven, at times looking like a rock-solid stalwart the Braves could lean on and at other times looking like he had no interest in pitching like a Major Leaguer. He went with Beck to the Giants organization in the Melancon trade, and was DFA’d immediately upon acquisition. Once he was outrighted and sent to the Sacramento River Cats, he only allowed one run over 12 appearances (14 innings), and posted a 0.64 ERA. His 4.94 FIP over that same time span points towards some good luck relative to his ERA, but for a guy who has endured as much bad luck as Winkler has over the past few years, he deserves some positive juju.
Wes Parsons, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Parsons, an undrafted free agent whose story would always be better than his numbers, was DFA’d on August 16 to make room for Adeiny Hechavarria, then was quickly picked up by the Colorado Rockies. His numbers have not been pretty, allowing 12 earned runs over 17 innings (6.35 ERA | 6.93 FIP). Like hundreds of pitchers before him, Parsons has been victimized by Colorado’s thin air and struggled with the home run ball, allowing 2.12 HR/9 since being added to the Rockies’ roster.
Shane Carle, RHP, Nashville Sounds (Texas Rangers’ AAA affiliate)
Carle, a much-maligned figure in Braves Country, was sent to the Rangers for cash on July 25. He was outrighted to their AAA affiliate in Nashville, and posted an 8.10 ERA | 3.95 FIP over seven appearances.
Jesse Biddle, LHP, Texas Rangers
A former first round pick, Biddle flashed massive promise during 2018 and looked like he was primed to take even more steps forward in 2019. Alas, it was not meant to be, as he imploded early and often this season, then got shipped to the Mariners in the Anthony Swarzak deal. Following 11 abysmal innings with Seattle, he was DFA’d and picked up by the Rangers, who placed him on the 60-day IL with left shoulder fatigue after four innings. Prior to the injury, over his last 10 outings of the year, Biddle gave up two or more runs in eight of those appearances, and pitched to a 13.15 ERA | 8.61 FIP. Yikes.
Arodys Vizcaino, RHP, Seattle Mariners
Vizcaino, who is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery, was shipped with Biddle to Seattle to offset Swarzak’s salary. He is a free agent at the end of this season, and stands the possibility of being a Mariner for most of a season while never throwing a pitch for them.