The Atlanta Braves' starting rotation looks healthy, durable and effective in 2013. However, their setup roles out of the bullpen took a huge hit, forcing the Braves to look for talent on the market to add depth to their bullpen. Ultimately, their goal is to continue getting Craig Kimbrel the ball with a lead. Here's why the Braves should look into acquiring James Russell of the Chicago Cubs.
As the deadline is approaching, the Cubs are placing a lot of their guys on the trade market. Alfonso Soriano always seems to surface in trade talks, but the Braves don't need an outfielder. Russell was listed as a moving part in the Cubs' organization. He's put up decent numbers in his four-year career, but so far in 2013, Russell has been extremely effective.
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For those who are not familiar with Russell, he is a left-handed pitcher who tops out in the late 80's with his fastball. Russell might not have the strongest arm, but he is truly effective. Don't be fooled by his velocity, in 28.1 innings pitched, Russell has 26 strikeouts. So far this season, he's 1-1 with a 2.22 ERA. Russell is 27 years old and is currently under team control, becoming a free agent in 2016.
What's there to lose if your the Braves? He's a better option than Anthony Varvaro, who has a 3.08 ERA and has been struggling lately. Placing Russell in a bullpen with guys like Luis Ayala, who has a 2-0 record with a 1.78 ERA in 30 innings pitched and Jordan Walden, who is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched, could be a deadly combination for Atlanta.
If the Braves deal with Theo Epstein, they will have to be careful since he has the reputation of seeking hidden talent. However, in the more recent trades made by the Braves, they have come out on top. Justin Upton carried the Braves through the first month of the season and the team was able to keep Julio Teheran, trading up Randall Delgado to the Arizon Diamondbacks. The Braves traded for Paul Maholm while giving up Aroldys Vizcaino, who is still not ready to pitch in the majors. They traded for Walden, giving up their once highly touted prospect, Tommy Hudson and he's struggling with a 5.10 ERA with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Braves should add Russell to their shopping list. He can Kimbrel get the ball with leads and he can help make a difference in a team that's playing for something.