|Braves could bolster roster before series ends with Reds|
Brandon McCarthy starts Tuesday for Atlanta against the Cincinnati Reds and the journeyman right-hander is everything the Braves could have wanted and more.
So is third baseman Ryan Flaherty, who has been one of the National League's leading hitters all season.
That doesn't mean Braves manager Brian Snitker, whose team is off to a promising start despite a 10-4 loss Monday to the Reds, isn't looking forward to making some changes in the near future.
Perhaps even before the Braves finish their four-game series at Great American Ball Park.
The right-handed McCarthy (3-0), who is with his seventh major league team, will oppose right-hander Tyler Mahle (1-3) in the second game of the series Tuesday night.
It won't be Tuesday, but six-time All-Star third baseman Jose Bautista, veteran catcher Tyler Flowers and top outfield prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. could join the Braves within a matter of days, injecting a couple of proven bats and some youth into the lineup of a team that's off to a 12-9 start in the competitive NL East.
Bautista, signed only last week, is currently getting at-bats at Triple-A Gwinnett before heading to the Braves to become the starting third baseman.
Flowers is spending the week at Gwinnett on a rehabilitation assignment as he heals from a strained left oblique.
And the Braves believe No. 1 prospect Acuna can't be kept down on the farm much longer.
"It's encouraging -- and it's kind of exciting -- that we could potentially add three really good players," Snitker told reporters before Monday's game. "Any time you add depth or good players to your team, it's exciting. The guys we have here are exciting. We have guys who are getting opportunities and doing a lot with them."
Flaherty, who is hitting .339, and McCarthy are two of those guys getting opportunities and making the most of them. Once Bautista arrives, Snitker must find ways to keep getting Flaherty's bat into the lineup.
And the manager will keep on running out McCarthy, and not just because the Braves are 4-0 when he starts.
McCarthy gave up one run and five hits while striking out six and walking two in 5 1/3 innings as the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 on Wednesday, lowering his ERA to 2.91. He is 1-2 in four career appearances against the Reds, but not many of their current batters have faced him.
Devin Mesoraco is 3-for-5, Billy Hamilton is 2-for-6, Scooter Gennett is 1-for-3 and Joey Votto is 0-for-1.
"It's a good thing to have that depth," Snitker said. "It just takes so many players to get through a season. The depth is really important. It's something we haven't had for a while."
The Reds won't mind having some of that depth -- even if they went deep Monday for the first time in nearly 10 days.
Scott Schebler's two-run homer in the fifth inning off Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz was the Reds' first homer since April 15, and it helped them end a five-game losing streak.
The Reds (4-18) had lost 13 of 14 and 15 of 17, and were off to the worst start in franchise history -- and one of the eight worse starts in the majors since 1900.
"That's exactly what I was looking for, to provide a spark for the offense," said Schebler, who was moved up to leadoff to ignite an offense that came into the game last in the majors in runs and home runs.
"The offense we have here is good, but we haven't gotten rolling yet. We haven't had that momentum. We just haven't had that yet ... but maybe we'll have some momentum moving forward."
Mahle's ERA is 5.14, but he has pitched better than his record. He last pitched Wednesday, taking the loss in a 2-0 defeat to the Milwaukee Brewers in which he gave up both runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out six.
"Going through the lineup three times in five innings, that's not very efficient," said Mahle, who will face the Braves for the first time. "We need to change that, for sure."
Now if only the Reds could change their record.