ATLANTA -- Able to mix and match as his team staged a ninth-inning rally during Monday night's one-run loss to the Cubs, Braves manager Brian Snitker started to think it would be more beneficial to stick with a five-man bench than it would be to revert back to carrying an
ATLANTA -- Able to mix and match as his team staged a ninth-inning rally during Monday night's one-run loss to the Cubs, Braves manager Brian Snitker started to think it would be more beneficial to stick with a five-man bench than it would be to revert back to carrying an extra relief pitcher.
But after re-evaluating the status of his pitching staff during Tuesday's 5-1 loss to the defending World Series champs, Snitker decided it would be in the team's best interest to continue carrying an extra reliever.
Thus, when Arodys Vizcaino makes his expected return from the disabled list before Wednesday afternoon's series finale, the Braves will likely go back to an eight-man bullpen. Snitker said a final decision will be made in the morning.
If the Braves do go back to utilizing an eight-man bullpen, Lane Adams appears to be the most likely candidate to be optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett to create a roster spot.
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Before Monday's game, the Braves activated two position players -- Sean Rodriguez and Danny Santana -- and optioned both a position player -- Jace Peterson -- and a reliever -- Jason Hursh. They initially thought they would stick with the resulting seven-man bullpen until Vizcaino was activated.
But as the ninth inning unfolded a few hours later, Snitker altered his preference. He was able to call upon Adams and Dansby Swanson to provide speed as pinch-runners and call upon Matt Adams, who drew an intentional walk in his pinch-hit plate appearance.
With Johan Camargo now being used as an everyday player, Swanson has started at shortstop in just three of the past seven games, including two of the five games played since the All-Star break. The Braves will have to address the rookie shortstop's best long-term interests by optioning him to Gwinnett if it becomes apparent there is not sufficient playing time for him at the big league level. But for now, they are not ready to make that move.
Swanson's status could be influenced by the future of second baseman Brandon Phillips, who has been recently shopped on the trade market. Phillips has a partial no-trade clause that could complicate this attempt, and the Braves are in somewhat of a holding pattern as they prepare to spend the next week testing themselves against three legit postseason contenders -- the Cubs, Dodgers and D-backs.
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If the Braves are still within striking distance in the National League Wild Card race at the end of this stretch, they might be more hesitant to move Phillips, left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia and some of their other veterans who will draw interest.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.