The Braves find themselves with an embarrassment of riches in their bullpen. While the Night Shift already had postseason heroes AJ Minter, Tyler Matzek, and Will Smith in the fold, Atlanta has continued to heavily invest in their relief corps with the additions of Collin McHugh and Kenley Jensen. As things stand right now, the Braves may have the best bullpen, on paper anyways, in the entire league and that is not even factoring in Kirby Yates who could return late in the season.
However, that does mean that roster spots got sparse in a hurry and the Braves made a move to trim their roster that, at least at first, is going to raise some eyebrows.
The #Braves today optioned RHP Jacob Webb to Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves now have 42 players in camp.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) March 28, 2022
While Jacob Webb is most certainly not one of the better arms in the Braves’ bullpen, he has been a decent reliever especially for a guy that got moved between the big leagues and Triple-A as much as he has. He also throws with his right hand which has value considering, at least until recently, how lefty heavy the bullpen is. He is also almost certainly a better option than his chief competition for a roster spot in Sean Newcomb...so what gives?
Its actually pretty simple. Webb has an option remaining while Newcomb does not. We can debate the merits of keeping Newcomb around at all at this point and that would be fair, it seems like the Braves want to keep as many options on the table as they can for now. This move keeps Webb at Triple-A and a short drive away if needed and keeps Newcomb under the team’s control for better or worse.
In 34 games during the 2021 season, Webb posted a 4.19 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 14 walks in 34.1 innings of work.