Braves take a risk with Reynaldo Lopez
The Atlanta Braves signed Reynaldo Lopez to a three-year contract on Monday morning. While not necessarily the seismic shift that Braves fans were hoping for in their pitching staff, Lopez is a solid arm who can contribute to the bullpen or starting rotation, depending on how he performs in spring training.
Lopez's career ERA out of the bullpen is 3.01. He career ERA as a starter in near five. Those splits don't exactly sound promising for Lopez, a pitcher who has starting pitcher potential but simply hasn't been able to put it together for long stretches.
Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Atlanta is preparing as if Lopez will be in their rotation. While I am not one to question Alex Anthopoulos and Brian Snitker often, considering they have an obvious need in the bullpen and Lopez logged a 1.54 ERA and near-30 percent strikeout rate over his final four months of 2023 out of said bullpen, why mess with a good thing? MLB Trade Rumors discussed Lopez's pitch selection, and how there is an avenue in which he could be a decent starting pitcher down the line:
"The 2023 version of Lopez was effectively a two-pitch pitcher: blazing fastball and hard slider (with a seldom-used changeup and curveball). He has, however, had seasons where he’s thrown both his change and his hook at a 20% clip or higher, so there’s certainly a diverse enough collection of pitches in his arsenal to succeed as a starter — if the Braves can coax better and more consistent results from his secondary offerings," Steve Adams wrote.
If Lopez joins the bullpen, he will join a revamped one. The Braves re-signed Joe Jimenez and Pierce Johnson. They also added Aaron Bummer and Jackson Kowar.