ATLANTA -- Now that the Braves feel good about the depth in their rotation, they may have to further their thoughts about possibly using their starting pitching surplus to bolster their bullpen.
Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn't ready to make a decision or specifically reveal potential plans after his bullpen squandered a one-run seventh-inning lead in Friday night's 9-3 loss to the Padres. But as the team evaluates how Brandon McCarthy fits in the rotation plans, the skipper once again said a starting pitcher or two might soon transition to a relief role.
"That's something we can look at," Snitker said. "As we go into next week, we're going to have to get a plan of what we're going to do and how we're going to structure the whole thing. It definitely could be an option."
With a rejuvenated Anibal Sanchez posting a 0.93 ERA through three starts this month, McCarthy might end up being the odd man out. But before making any decisions the Braves will evaluate how Julio Teheran feels after returning from the disabled list on Sunday. Mike Foltynewicz will also have to prove he is healthy Saturday, when he completes a bullpen session, his first time on the mound since exiting Tuesday's start with right triceps tendinitis.
"There are still a lot of variables and things that we're going to have to watch play out," Snitker said.
As the Braves evaluate how to deal with the rotation surplus, they may find some answers for their bullpen, which has posted a 6.05 ERA and issued 22 walks over 41 2/3 innings this month. Some of the struggles can be pinned on Luiz Gohara, who has allowed nine earned runs in 4 2/3 innings since returning from the bereavement list.
If the Braves opt to send Gohara to Triple-A Gwinnett, McCarthy is an option to at least temporarily serve as a relief option. The 34-year-old right-hander made three relief appearances for the Dodgers late last season and pitched out of the bullpen during the World Series.
The Braves also could promote Evan Phillips, who has posted a 1.69 ERA in 22 relief appearances for Gwinnett. Or they could dip into their crop of starting pitchers by bringing either Max Fried or Matt Wisler up to serve as a reliever. The hope with Wisler would be that by using his slider a majority of the time, he might find unexpected success, much like Brad Hand has this year with San Diego.
McCarthy's bid to remain in Atlanta's rotation began inauspiciously, as he surrendered a Travis Jankowski double and a Jose Pirela home run before recording Friday's second out. But as he allowed six more hits over 5 2/3 innings, he limited the Padres to just those two runs.
Over his past eight starts, McCarthy has posted a 6.26 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .335. But he says he has not allowed himself to worry about the possibility of losing a rotation spot.
"I got past that way of thinking years ago," McCarthy said. "I don't see how that helps me or helps us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Decisive seventh: The Padres capped their five-run seventh inning with Freddy Galvis' three-run homer off Peter Moylan. The Australian reliever entered after lefty reliever Sam Freeman's bid to escape a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation was undone by Hunter Renfroe's two-run single.
Franmil Reyes opened the inning with a single and Jankowski followed with a walk. The Padres loaded the bases when Eric Hosmer bounced a single off the plate. Freeman then got Pirela to ground into a double play before allowing Renfroe's single.
"I thought Sammy was going to get out of it," Snitker said. "He made the good pitch, got the double play, then had a guy to put away and just hung a split."
Freddie Freeman gave the Braves a brief lead when he drilled a one-out sixth inning home run off Padres starter Clayton Richard. It was his 15th homer of the season and the sixth that the National League MVP candidate has hit in a span of 34 at-bats dating back to June 5.
Freeman leads all left-handed hitters with a .394 batting average against left-handed pitchers. He hit .278 against southpaws last year.
Meanwhile, Galvis recorded a hit in each of his five at-bats Friday, joining Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte (May 22, 2017) as the only players to go 5-for-5 in a game at SunTrust Park.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
With runners on second and third in the bottom of the third, Padres first baseman Hosmer fielded Kurt Suzuki's hard ground ball and fired to the plate to get Freeman, who was initially ruled safe. But the call was overturned, erasing what would have been a go-ahead run. Replay showed Raffy Lopez tagged Freeman just before his left foot hit the plate.
The Braves were also on the wrong end of a replay review ruling in the ninth inning. Dansby Swanson initially missed the second-base bag while attempting to turn a double play, but appeared to graze it when he stepped back with his left foot before throwing to first base. Though second-base umpire Nick Mahrley initially ruled Renfroe out at second, first-base umpire Doug Eddings pointed out Swanson initially missed the bag as the umpires conferred on the field. Once the initial call was reversed to safe on the field, the Braves called for the review, which resulted in the call standing.
"It was just one of those nights," Snitker said. "There were a series of things that just didn't go our way."
Sean Newcomb will try to enhance his All-Star credentials when the Braves host the Padres on Saturday at 5:10 p.m. ET. Newcomb posted a 2.49 ERA through his first 12 starts before surrendering five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Dodgers on Sunday. The left-hander will be opposed by Padres right-hander Jordan Lyles, who surrendered a season-high 11 hits in both of his last two starts.