Inbox: What changes when Anderson's back?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers questions from fans

August 26th, 2021

ATLANTA -- On the second of two consecutive off-days before the Braves open a three-game series against the National League-leading Giants at Truist Park, Atlanta holds a five-game advantage atop the NL East standings. Let's get to your questions before the final stretch of the regular season.

When Ian Anderson gets called up, what will be the change to the rotation? Will Drew Smyly be in the bullpen?
-- @TweetsBraves

No, Smyly will stay in the rotation. With Anderson set to make his return on Sunday or Monday, it's likely the Braves will temporarily go with a six-man rotation that allows each of their starters to get an extra day over the next week. Once the next off-day arrives on Sept. 6, they may go back to five starters. But without an off-day next week, they’ll likely go with six starters.

Are the Braves going to wait to bring up Eddie Rosario so they don’t have to DFA Abraham Almonte? If so, why?
-- @kwhitt2131

No, you will likely see Rosario activated from the injured list during this weekend’s series against the Giants. Exactly what the counter move will be is not known. But Rosario’s left-handed power should strengthen the bench over the season’s final five weeks.

What does the Braves starting rotation look like in 2022? Is Huascar Ynoa going to be in the rotation long term?
-- @CardPhilthy

While you’d like to see Ynoa continue to develop his sinker or changeup, I would confidently project him, Ian Anderson and Max Fried to be in next year’s Opening Day rotation. Charlie Morton, who will be a free agent, has the physical ability to continue pitching. His potential return will be depend on whether he wants to continue playing and how the other teams' offers compare to that of the Braves -- assuming they make one.

Touki Toussaint, Kyle Muller and even Tucker Davidson have created reason to think they could capably fill a spot at the back of the rotation. It’s also too early to completely give up on Kyle Wright, whose place will soon be challenged by rising prospects Bryce Elder, Freddy Tarnok and Spencer Strider. There’s enough starting pitching depth to believe this club will continue to find success, while hoping Mike Soroka might eventually again factor into future plans.

What do you think is responsible for the quick turn around of the 'pen?
-- @GpaigePaw

We can start with the great improvements Luke Jackson and Tyler Matzek have made over the past month. Both have successfully adjusted from those days when they could rely on sunscreen and rosin. Given Matzek’s past troubles with the yips, I was concerned about his future in late June. But right now, he might be the game’s best reliever. 

Manager Brian Snitker has successfully utilized Matzek to get what has often been the biggest out or outs of the game over the past few weeks. His ability to do so has been aided by the acquisition of Richard Rodríguez, the former Pirates closer who has also proven both versatile and dependable.

How did they get back to back off-days? Kinda weird.
-- @slc10ga

With the initial draft of the schedule, the Yankees would have played in Atlanta on Tuesday and Wednesday and then traveled to Oakland. The cross-country trip would have required the Braves to play an afternoon game and possibly sacrifice some gate money on Wednesday. So, they instead opted to go with consecutive off-days.

Who is the catcher of the future? Shea Langeliers, William Contreras or other?
-- @MGCary12

Contrary to what some folks on Twitter might believe, I have been a big Contreras fan over the past year, especially dating back to last summer when I saw the strides he made offensively. I’ve long touted him as the catcher of the future. But that was when I was expecting Langeliers to struggle offensively.

Contreras has already made some defensive improvements. Now, we must wait to see if Langeliers continues to hit like he has at Double-A, where he owns an .848 OPS in 285 at-bats this season. 

If Langeliers does continue to produce offensively, you can’t pass on that arm. But I wouldn’t give up on Contreras yet. Both will be everyday catchers for some club in the near future.

Mark, do you have any idea if odds have been set for the Braves infield to all hit 30 homeruns this year? I have Freeman and Riley on pace for 34, Swanson 32 and Albies 28.
-- @betsmart54

As much as I wish Bovada had been named after me, I have no clue about the odds of each of the Braves infielders hitting at least 30 homers. It’s never happened, but as you mention, it certainly could happen with this year’s Atlanta club. As you accurately pointed out, Albies is the only member of the infield not currently on pace to hit 30. 

How impressive would it be to have four infielders enjoy a 30-homer season? Well, the 2008 Marlins (Mike Jacobs, Hanley Ramierz, Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu) are the only club to have four infielders hit at least 25 homers in a season. 

And the Braves have had four players total 30-plus homers just once in their long, storied history. That occurred in 1998, when Andres Galarraga, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones and Javy Lopez combined to do it.