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Stephen Marek To The Atlanta Braves Bullpen: Making Another Case

We know the Braves have one of the best bullpens in the game despite the additions of Scott Linebrink and George Sherrill. But as Talking Chop points out, the pen is still missing a right-handed reliever capable of holding down a fringe late inning role, such as the seventh inning. Yes, this goes back to Stephen Marek.

Marek has pitched 9.1 shutout innings for Triple-A Gwinnett so far, limiting opponents to five hits with no walks and 14 strikeouts. Yes, 0 BB to 14 K. And the Braves are struggling with right-handed relief. This makes no sense whatsoever.

But then again, Atlanta's handling of Marek has never made sense. He progressed through the system fine with the exception of 2009, and he responded with 1.43 ERA in 50.1 innings at Gwinnett in 2010. Marek was supposedly in the mix for a middle innings relief role out of Spring Training this season, and I clamored for days for it, but he was mysteriously cut from camp earlier than most reliever candidates.

So what does he do? Dominates Triple-A to begin 2011 while the Braves struggle with the loss of Peter Moylan and deal with an over-the-hill Linebrink. And then their most recent move was the call up of Cory Gearrin, in which Fredi Gonzalez said Marek was the second option behind Gearrin. The side-armer has been outstanding in three innings for Atlanta, but it didn't make sense.

I'm not sure what Marek has to do to make the Braves roster, but I wish someone would figure it out soon before the Braves lose more games due to Linebrink and Martinez's late-inning appearances.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.