Sobotka provides depth to young Braves 'pen

Allard recalled for long relief; Atlanta utilizing pitching-rich farm system

August 11th, 2018

ATLANTA -- It is never wise to get overly excited about one appearance, especially one completed during the ninth inning of a rout. But Braves right-hander Chad Sobotka certainly made a good first impression as he closed out Friday night's 10-1 win over of the Brewers.

"I was excited to see him," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I've been reading reports. Hopefully, he can be a part."

In other words, Sobotka has yet to earn a permanent spot in the bullpen carousel that turned yet again on Saturday, when was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to replace Chad Bell, who did not pitch after being promoted to momentarily provide depth.

Allard completed two innings of relief as he served as the 26th man during Tuesday's loss to the Nationals. So, the Braves opted to wait another 24 hours before bringing him back. The 20-year-old prospect will likely return to Gwinnett after he makes his next long-relief appearance.

Sobotka has a chance to stick within Atlanta's bullpen, but he must show better control than he did while issuing eight walks and recording 10 strikeouts during the 6 1/3 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett before receiving his unexpected promotion to the Majors on Friday. The 6-foot-7 reliever's fastball touched 98.7 mph and averaged 97.1 mph as he worked a perfect ninth during Friday's victory. His arm strength makes him an intriguing prospect. But he's still fighting to find consistency with the curveball, which he threw just once during his fastball-heavy 12-pitch outing against the Brewers.

When the Braves selected Sobotka in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB Draft, the University of South Carolina-Upstate product was recovering from a stress fracture in his back. The 25-year-old hurler totaled 37 innings (15 appearances) in '15 and then tossed 38 2/3 innings over 30 appearances in '16.

After Sobotka combined to post a 6.09 ERA over 57 2/3 innings with Class A Advanced Florida and Double-A Mississippi last year, there was reason to doubt whether he would reach the Majors. His 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings this year have enabled him to overcome an alarming walk rate (4.6 BB/9 IP) and at least gain this opportunity to provide unexpected value to Atlanta's bullpen.