Grilli's health will determine bullpen makeup

Decisions also to be made with Braves' lineup and rotation

Grilli's health will determine bullpen makeup

ATLANTA -- There will be plenty of intrigue as the Braves spend the next six weeks determining how to align their starting lineup and fill the final available spots in both their starting rotation and bullpen.

This uncertainty could lead to some frustration during the regular season. But for now, it simply enhances the interest surrounding Atlanta's Spring Training.

The Braves are set to welcome pitchers and catchers to camp on Friday before staging their first workout on Saturday. With this highly anticipated event quickly approaching, we extend the Spring Training preview package by projecting the looks of the lineup, rotation and bullpen.

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There is an enhanced meaning to the term "projected" in relation to this year's Braves club. The bullpen's makeup will be significantly influenced by whether Jason Grilli can indeed make a successful return from a ruptured Achilles tendon at 39 years old. The rotation will assume many different looks as the Braves take advantage of a chance to test some of their top prospects at the big league level.

Braves have options in rotation

As for the lineup, it too will assume some different looks as players share time at three different positions -- catcher, second base and third base. Manager Fredi Gonzalez also faces the challenge of having to construct a fluid lineup with a number of left-handed-hitting pieces.

With Ender Inciarte and Freddie Freeman, the Braves will have left-handed batters occupying two of their first three spots. Gonzalez will have to decide whether he wants to fill the fourth spot with another lefty in Nick Markakis or a much less proven right-hander in Adonis Garcia or Hector Olivera.

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These projections will almost definitely change over the next few weeks, but the information below provides a look at which direction the Braves might go once the regular season begins:

2015 record

67-95, fourth in the National League East

Projected batting order (with 2015 statistics)

1. CF Ender Inciarte:
.303 BA, .338 OBP, .408 SLG, 6 HR, 45 RBIs, 21 SB (with the D-backs)
2. SS Erick Aybar:
.270 BA, .301 OBP, .338 SLG, 3 HR, 44 RBIs, 15 SB (with the Angels)
3. 1B Freddie Freeman:
.276 BA, .370 OBP, .471 SLG, 18 HR, 66 RBIs
4. RF Nick Markakis:
.296 BA, .370 OBP, .376 SLG, 3 HR, 53 RBIs
5. LF Hector Olivera:
.253 BA, .310 OBP, .405 SLG, 2 HR, 11 RBIs
6. C A.J. Pierzynski:
.300 BA, .339 OBP, .430 SLG, 9 HR, 49 RBIs
7. 3B Adonis Garcia:
.277 BA, .293 OBP, .497 SLG, 10 HR, 26 RBIs
8. 2B Jace Peterson:
.239 BA, .314 OBP, .335 SLG, 6 HR, 52 RBIs, 12 SB

Projected rotation (with 2015 statistics)

1. Julio Teheran: 11-8, 4.04 ERA, 33 starts
2. Bud Norris: 3-11, 6.72 ERA, 38 games/11 starts (with the O's and Padres)
3. Matt Wisler: 8-8, 4.71 ERA, 20 games/19 starts
4. Williams Perez: 7-6, 4.78 ERA, 23 games/20 starts
5. Manny Banuelos: 1-4, 5.13 ERA, seven games/six starts

Projected bullpen (with 2015 statistics)

Closer Jason Grilli: 24/26 saves, 2.94 ERA
Setup man Arodys Vizcaino: 9/10 saves, 1.60 ERA 
Setup man Jim Johnson: 9/13 saves, 25 holds, 4.46 ERA (with the Braves and Dodgers)

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.