Reyes making decision difficult for Braves

Clearwater, Fla. – He has pitched so well as a reliever this spring, the Braves are considering Jo-Jo Reyes for one of two bullpen vacancies instead of the starting rotation at Class AAA Gwinnett.

Problem is, if Reyes is in the ‘pen instead of getting “stretched out” as a starter at Gwinnett, there isn’t another minor-league starter the Braves consider ready to fill in if one of the major-league starters goes down.

“We haven’t made up our minds on anything,” manager Bobby Cox said after the left-hander pitched two perfect innings in the Braves’ 5-4 win against Philadelphia on Monday at Bright House Field.

“It’s a predicament because Jo-Jo’s a starter backup guy if we sent him out [to the minors]. If we keep him, he could help us here, too. But then who’s the starter if somebody gets hurt?”

The Braves have Kris Medlen as a jack-of-all-trades reliever/spot starter, but he’s arguably too valuable in that role to move him to the rotation if a starter goes down for more than one start.

Besides, Medlen wouldn’t be stretched out to pitch six or seven innings in a starter’s regular turn.

Reyes has a minor-league option remaining, which means the Braves could send him to Gwinnett without exposing him to waivers. That would give them some security in case they need a replacement starter.

That he’s made it a tough decision says a lot about how much improvement the Braves have seen this spring from Reyes, who’s 5-15 with a 6.09 ERA in 40 games (37 starts) in the majors.

He’s allowed seven hits and three runs in 11 innings this spring, with four walks and six strikeouts. He’s been in seven games, all in relief.

“He’s having a much better spring than he did last year,” Cox said. “His stats may say last year [was better], I don’t know. But it’s not even close.

“He’s throwing more strikes, the ball is sinking, and his breaking ball is, like, two times better. It’s got some depth to it, some break to it now, not just a spinner that you show. It’s an out pitch now.”

Reyes, 25, said he doesn’t know which decision the Braves will make, but he’s glad to have given them plenty to consider. And he’s got a changed attitude about pitching in relief.

“I’m feeling good out of the bullpen,” he said. “In my mind I’m not trying to change anything, but it’s a lot different than it was the last couple of years. I think I can let it loose some more instead of pacing myself.”

He said that “letting it loose” in one- or two-inning bursts as a reliever is working better for him than his approach as a starter.

“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “In the past I was trying to pace myself. I think that could probably hurt me — pacing myself I probably tried to guide the ball more. Now I’m just letting it happen.”

He retired six consecutive batters Monday, five on groundballs.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen this spring. I just wanted to go in there and whatever happens, happens. Make the decision hard [for Braves officials] whatever it was going to be.”

Mission accomplished.

“Yeah, I think I’m doing my part,” he said. “I guess we’ll see what happens.”

33 comments Add your comment

Jake Humphrey

March 29th, 2010
5:52 pm

Any word on when the cuts are coming today?

meat

March 29th, 2010
6:00 pm

Reyes has been around for so long. Hard to believe he is only 25.

Milt Famey

March 29th, 2010
6:02 pm

Great problem to have. It speaks volumes about our improved pen (that we would consider sending him down).

John

March 29th, 2010
6:24 pm

Dave, how have ticket sales gone so far for this season? Up? The same? Down? I know the opener will be sold out but am curious about all of the other games.

Mike Jay

March 29th, 2010
6:33 pm

““I’m feeling good out of the bullpen,” he said. “In my mind I’m not trying to change anything, but it’s a lot different than it was the last couple of years. I think I can let it loose some more instead of pacing myself.”

He said that “letting it loose” in one- or two-inning bursts as a reliever is working better for him than his approach as a starter.”

Sounds to me like JoJo want s to be a reliever. I say put him in the best position to succeed and worry about a 6th starter when you need to.

Eric from MO

March 29th, 2010
6:44 pm

Mike I agree. If he is comfortable as a reliever, let him relieve. Im sure several of the minor league guys do as good as Jo Jo did as a starter in the past. Worry about a 6th starter when you actually need to. It wouldnt suprise me if Lowe made 33 starts, JJ made 33 starts, Hanson makes 32, Hudson makes 32, and Kawakami makes 26. That is 156 starts, which would mean a sixth starter would only be needed for 6 starts.

tvsportscaster

March 29th, 2010
6:54 pm

With Scott Proctor’s presence not that far away, maybe mid-April, it probably would be wiser to send JoJo down to Gwinnett to get stretched out. Afterall someone is going to have to go once Proctor is ready, maybe that’s Chavez. Secondly, we’ve seen this act before with JoJo where he has had a great spring and then sucked in the regular season. His key is to continue to be agressive, when he tries to nibble and get cute, that is when he gets hit hard.

Brett Butler

March 29th, 2010
6:56 pm

I agree with Milt Famey…..just want to add that, I sure hope we can produce runs…that will tell the tale of the Braces in 2010….IMHO…

GO BRAVES..!!!!

rtrafford

March 29th, 2010
7:17 pm

I’d prefer to see Reyes in the pen right now while knowing that he can still give us 5 in a spot start and that Minor is available in a pickle.

AJ

March 29th, 2010
7:20 pm

One option left, then what? Bring him up for good, lose him in a waiver claim, or trade him? This does give Frank Wren something to think about…. probably some sort of deal in works later in the year if he comes up and does well.If you trade him, he goes somewhere and blossoms. If you keep him, he isn’t getting regular work….decisions, decisions…

Coach D

March 29th, 2010
7:25 pm

I like having Reyes in Atlanta for his pinch hitting abilities & his relief pitching ability. It’s time to have the best pitchers in “the league” because it’s Bobby’s last year. There’s no time to mess around this year.

jp

March 29th, 2010
7:46 pm

How about Mike Minor as a spot starter? he’ll be 22 or 23 and should be ready to go by mid season. Is anybody not seeing the fact that if both Reyes and Medlen are in the bullpen than you have them both pitch 3-4 innings each. How come that only makes sense to me?

By midseason we should be looking to get rid of either Lowe or Kawakami in a trade. That’ll be the best times to get rid of their contracts when some other team is desperate. That’s when you send Medlen down to the minors and train him to become a starter and use Reyes in long relief or vice versa.

JohnSmith

March 29th, 2010
7:54 pm

I don’t really understand the notion that, were Reyes to make the team and work out of the ‘pen, the Braves would have no spot starter available in the minors. With Reyes’ numbers as a starter being what they are (5-15 with an ERA over six), how can one of the other starters on the farm NOT be at least as good as this guy was?

In short, Reyes should be given the chance to succeed in the ‘pen, and someone else should be given a chance to make a spot start or two in case of injury. (Mike Minor, anyone? Yes? No? Too soon?)

Chris

March 29th, 2010
8:24 pm

I have said it for years. Put him in the bullpen. He is out of options. The kid has talent. Let’s capitalize versus a crappy trade and hope he is the next Mike Remlinger.

athdog

March 29th, 2010
8:25 pm

Who cares? When’s kickoff?

athdog

March 29th, 2010
8:25 pm

How’s Matty Ice doing, and is Turner going to stay healthy this year???

C. Tampa Ironworse

March 29th, 2010
9:06 pm

Even if they lost Reyes, if they couldn’t find anyone better floating out there than him…the Bravos are in BIG trouble. John Smith says it best…how can anyone we have in waiting not be as good as Reyes. Unless it’s JJ from “Good Times”…I’ll pass.

Mark Burris

March 29th, 2010
10:13 pm

When will the Braves be adding Jason Heyward to their 25 man roster? The fantasy baseball world needs to know?

Dr. R

March 29th, 2010
10:52 pm

Nice problem to have. If Wags and Saito can stay strong all year, the bullpen should be a strength. Moylan’s a seventh-inning beast, and Proctor could be a big help. An extra lefty to go with O’Flaherty wouldn’t be a bad idea. What about James Parr as the emergency starter at Gwinnett?

steve

March 29th, 2010
11:16 pm

Keep Reyes in the pen as he has earned his spot plus we need to think about winning games now instead of worrying about what may or may not happen later ,.

wayn-o

March 29th, 2010
11:24 pm

Mark – Heyward has already been officially introduced as making the team, no need to wait any more.

wjones

March 29th, 2010
11:26 pm

“Mark Burris

March 29th, 2010
10:13 pm
When will the Braves be adding Jason Heyward to their 25 man roster? The fantasy baseball world needs to know?”

I would think the Braves would wait until the last moment to put him on the 40 man, since a lot of times things work themselves out via an injury, a trade, etc. I’m thinking that either right before or right after the last Spring games they will do something. Then again they could wait until the day the season begins, but probably not.

Matt the Brave

March 30th, 2010
12:46 am

It’s amazing how a couple of years getting older does to your maturity-wise. It sounds like Jo-Jo is finally getting it. It’s going to be interesting if he becomes a reliever because he really could end up being that lefty specialist we need to compliment the pen. I know we have one guy down there like that, but it’s always good to have two if you can!

wjones

March 30th, 2010
6:52 am

Matt the Brave

“March 30th, 2010
12:46 am
It’s amazing how a couple of years getting older does to your maturity-wise. It sounds like Jo-Jo is finally getting it. It’s going to be interesting if he becomes a reliever because he really could end up being that lefty specialist we need to compliment the pen. I know we have one guy down there like that, but it’s always good to have two if you can!”

I agree with you, especially in light of the fact that we have an all-righty rotation. Having two lefties, three with Walker, helps us with as many times as we have to face the Phils (Howard, Utley, Ibanez) and the Nats (Dunn).

SC Smith

March 30th, 2010
8:21 am

I think that Bobby is also thinking about how much they will even use JoJo. The rotation has 5 innings eaters, and with Wags, Moylan, Saito, O’ Flaherty, & Medlin in the pen with Proctor on the way, how much work would he get anyway. But it’s a great problem to have.

dpelfrey

March 30th, 2010
9:36 am

I like the idea of putting JoJo in the pen as an extra lefty for matchups and occasional long inning relief. If a starter goes down, plan B could be to call up Redmond or Parr for a few starts while you get Medlen or JoJo stretched out and ready to step in.

Although I think Bobby has a crush on Venters, so it’s possible he gets one of the bullpen spots while JoJo waits at Gwinnett.

One other thing to consider, JoJo could be a valuable piece of trade bait and casting him as a reliever would reduce his value. Not saying that is the key thing, particularly since Bobby’s been very clear about putting the best 25 guys out there, but something to consider.

By the way, if Venters make the team, I think he should be the designated Ryan Howard pitcher. I imagine that 93-mph lefty sinker would be tough for lefties to handle since it’s not something often seen.

come on

March 30th, 2010
10:58 am

come on braves don’t pull your normal move, u did the right thing by not sending heyward down. so don’t go back to your normal move and not put the best player for the spot on the feild.

Dwayne

March 30th, 2010
11:30 am

Look for Boobie Cox to screw up the bullpen this year too.

Scorby Jones

March 30th, 2010
11:34 am

I’d be psyched to see Jo-Jo be successful this year in the pen. He’s been passed up and down for the last bunch of years – it would be great to see him be a fixture in the pen for the next few years. What would next year’s pen look like?

Matt

March 30th, 2010
11:39 am

Let me get this straight: Reyes, who has been God awful as a starter is now looking promising as an effective reliever which could help solidify the bullpen, thereby making them a better team. The other option is for him to be sent to AAA as a starter just in case someone gets hurt and he has to come up and make a spot start or two…the exact scenerio that he has been God awful at over the past 2-3 seasons.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…what to do…what to do.

Can I please be paid the big bucks to make these “tough” decisions!!!

hawesg

March 30th, 2010
1:33 pm

You need depth at AAA? A spot starter? There are a bunch of scrap heap guys like Tomo Ohka, Odalis Perez, Adam Eaton and Eric Milton looking for work. What better place to play than a AAA team that’s in a major city?

Or, I hear there’s a guy in the Braves broadcasting booth who can pitch a little.

Adrian

March 30th, 2010
1:50 pm

Dump Reyes already. Seriously, the guy needs to go to another team. Medlen will be in the rotation when Kawakami goes down hill. The Kawakami will be another middle relief guy- high priced one at that.

Fillin' up @ Juniors

March 30th, 2010
3:51 pm

jo jo makes me feel like a yo yo…is he good? Is he bad? Do I think he is a 6th starter, is he valuable in the bullpen? Is he really just increasing his trade value?

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