The Braves struck on Thursday with some unfortunate news, placing excellent comeback story and highly effective reliever Nick Anderson on the 60-Day Injured List in order to clear a 40-man spot for a waiver claim:
The #Braves today claimed OF Dalton Guthrie off waivers from the San Francisco Giants and optioned him to Triple-A Gwinnett.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 13, 2023
To make room on the 40-man roster, Atlanta placed RHP Nick Anderson on the 60-day injured list, backdated to July 8th, with a right shoulder strain.
Anderson’s effectiveness had certainly waned over time. Hardly a lock for the Opening Day roster when the Braves signed him to a split contract worth $800,000 at the major league level in November 2022, Anderson impressed in Spring Training and then quickly ensconced himself as a higher-leverage option from the get-go. Through May 1, he had a ridiculous 80 ERA-/40 FIP-/45 xFIP-, which came with a set of appearances where he issued a free pass in just one outing, and was striking out over 38 percent of batters faced.
Those first 12 appearances were excellent, but the next 12, through June 12, were somewhat worse: 74/72/94. The walks were still largely nonexistent, but the strikeout rate nearly halved itself, down to 20 percent. Then rougher times came. Over his last 10 outings, Anderson has a 45/121/131 line. He walked a batter in four straight outings at one point, after issuing just three walks the entire season beforehand. Perhaps his performance since mid-June has been the resut of him trying to pitch with a shoulder issue; we’ll never know.
Nonetheless, Anderson’s aggregate 69/73/86 line has been one of the best in baseball so far, as his 0.8 fWAR is a top 30 mark among relievers and second on the team to A.J. Minter. This is a not-insubstantial blow to the bullpen, and while the Braves were likely going to add to the relief corps over the next couple of weeks anyway, this just makes it even more of a certainty.
Anderson goes to the 60-day IL, which is kind of a concern since the injury was apparently bad enough to warrant the whole two month hiatus thing. To use the extra roster space, the Braves claimed outfielder Dalton Guthrie from the Giants, and are sending him to Gwinnett as an Eli White replacement, as the latter is also likely out for the season. Originally a sixth-round pick by the Phillies in 2016, Guthrie was traded to the Giants earlier this season for cash considerations but spent his few days with his new organization at Triple-A. Guthrie has a career 115 wRC+ and 0.4 fWAR in 56 PAs, but generally hasn’t hit enough in the minors to be more than a fringy utility option. He does have experience in the infield, so he’s kind of like younger Charlie Culberson to some extent.
UPDATED: July 13th, 5:51 PM EASTERN
The Braves followed up with the news of Anderson hitting the IL with the news that they have selected the contract of Lucas Luetge:
The #Braves today also selected the contract of LHP Lucas Luetge and designated RHP Roddery Muñoz for assignment.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 13, 2023
Luetge remained with the organization after being designated for assignment at the end of May. He will return to the Braves for the time being to take Anderson’s opening in the bullpen.
Roddery Munoz, who had spent time with the Braves for a few days earlier this season, was designated for assignment to create a 40-man spot for Luetge.