ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker did not hesitate when asked whether some of the organization's young starting pitching prospects might be consistently utilized out of Atlanta's bullpen at some point this season."What you would like to do first is get them stretched out and get them on the starting
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Brian Snitker did not hesitate when asked whether some of the organization's young starting pitching prospects might be consistently utilized out of Atlanta's bullpen at some point this season.
"What you would like to do first is get them stretched out and get them on the starting routine," Snitker said. "But I think absolutely some of these young talented guys with stuff will be in play and we can pitch them out of the bullpen."
One potential candidate to transition from starter to reliever is Max Fried, who was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett when the Braves recalled Lucas Sims from Gwinnett before Saturday night's game against the Giants at SunTrust Park.
Sims will once again spend the next few days providing the Braves some bullpen depth in the form of a long-relief option. Fried, who is ranked the club's No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, will rejoin Gwinnett's rotation once he recovers from the one-inning relief appearances he made for Atlanta on Thursday and Friday.
While the Braves will continue to give Fried a chance to develop as a starting pitcher, the fact he was asked to make back-to-back appearances before being sent down was an indication of the club's desire to get a feel for his potential value as a reliever.
The Braves' starting rotation currently consists of Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, Brandon McCarthy, Sean Newcomb and Mike Soroka. An injury, trade or regression will almost certainly necessitate the rotation to be altered at some point this season.
But Anibal Sanchez, who is nearing a return from the disabled list, would likely stand as the top candidate to fill a rotation spot. Luiz Gohara has struggled over the past few weeks, but once he rights himself, he too would rank ahead of Fried on the list of potential starters.
Highly regarded prospects Kolby Allard (No. 6) and Kyle Wright (No. 2) could be deemed Major League-ready within the next couple months. At that point, both could rank ahead of Fried on the depth chart, or quite possibly be given a chance to get their feet wet as relievers.
The Braves want to use this season to get a feel for the pitching depth. At some point within the next year, this depth could certainly be utilized to address other needs via trades. But for now, the club is just getting a feel for how to best utilize assets like Fried.
"[Fried] needs to go down there and pitch, not be up here mopping up games for us," Snitker said. "He provided the length, but it gets to the point where you've got to do something."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.