ATLANTA -- As the Braves progress through the early portion of a stretch in which they will play a game on 20 consecutive days, they plan to continue carrying eight relievers within a bullpen that has benefited from the recent additions of Jason Motte and Sam Freeman.
This might prove to be beneficial when the Braves return to SunTrust Park on Wednesday to begin a nine-game homestand. Atlanta's starting pitchers have exited before the end of the fifth inning in three of the past eight games played at the club's new home stadium, which has thus far looked like an offense-friendly park.
While carrying an eight-man bullpen, the Braves sacrifice one spot on their bench. But they are comfortable with the versatility Jace Peterson and recently acquired Danny Santana provide.
Maybe more importantly, they don't necessarily have a player in their system who could add the same kind of value to the bench that the extra reliever might add to the bullpen.
The Braves might continue to tinker with the makeup of their relief corps, but the current mix is primarily filled with relievers who would have to pass through waivers if removed from the big league roster.
There was some hope Mauricio Cabrera would have been ready to join Atlanta's bullpen by now. But the young flamethrower, who began the season sidelined by right elbow inflammation, has continued to battle command issues while pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett.
If the Braves do opt to make a move within their bullpen, they would likely promote Aaron Blair, Matt Wisler or Luke Jackson from Gwinnett. Each of these three pitchers would have the ability to provide multi-inning appearances. But more importantly, each of them have options and thus could be shuttled back and forth from Gwinnett to Atlanta's roster without having to pass through waivers.
Entering Tuesday's series finale in Toronto, long reliever Josh Collmenter had allowed 12 hits and 10 runs -- eight earned -- over his past five innings (four appearances). If his struggles continue and he places unnecessary strain on the rest of the bullpen, there is a chance the Braves could opt to use Blair, Jackson or Wisler as their long relief option.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.