The Atlanta Braves probably consider their 10-10 start an underwhelming way to kickoff the 2019 season. And why shouldn’t they? Having already called up several top prospects (pitchers, specifically, Touki Toussaint and Mike Soroka) last year and this, they expect to be in the thick of the playoff race. Unfortunately, the 4.64 bullpen ERA ranks in the bottom half of the league.
Of particular concern has to be the play of 25-year-old Chad Sobotka. He’s only in his first season in the majors, and undoubtedly growing pains are expected. But, in nine innings this season (a relatively large sample size for a reliever this early in the year), he has posted an 11.00 ERA, and it’s getting worse.
Fortunately, the Braves have more young pitchers worthy of getting a shot. Enter the No. 11 prospect in the organization, 21-year-old left-handed pitcher Kolby Allard. In his 13.1 innings pitched this season for the AAA Gwinnett Stripers, Allard has posted a 4.04 ERA. But, he also has only surrendered one home run and has 12 strikeouts. In 2018, he posted a 2.72 ERA in 112 innings for the Stripers. So, he’s demonstrated the ability to pitch a full season with above-average stats.
The Braves’ 2015 first-round pick did get three appearances last year for the major league club, and was admittedly not very good. But, at only 21, he’s inevitably going to get another shot. That shot might as well be now, when another young prospect is struggling and could benefit from refocusing on fundamentals in the minors for the next few weeks.