As we count down the days to 2018’s opening day, we take a look at the greatest Braves to wear each jersey number that’s been worn.
The best Brave to wear #68 is Ryan Weber, who made 5 starts for the 2015 Braves while wearing #68. The only other Brave to wear #68 was Shae Simmons, who donned the number for less than seven innings the next season.
The Braves acquired Weber in the 22nd round of the 2009 draft, a year after he declined to sign with the Phillies as a 12th round pick. This automatically qualifies Weber for “All Around Good Guy” status. As he rose through the minors, Weber didn’t find his name on top prospect lists, but he was generally reliable.
In 2015, Weber posted a 2.73 ERA in AA and a 2.21 mark at AAA Gwinnett, so when Matt Wisler struggled and necessitated a move to the bullpen, the rebuilding Braves gave 5 September starts to the rookie. For a non-prospect on a team that had nothing to play for, Weber acquitted himself nicely. Although the team went 1-4 in his starts, Weber lasted at least 6 innings in 4 outings and gave up 2 runs or less in 3. His 4.76 ERA was ugly thanks to a disaster start against the Marlins (2 innings, 9 hits, 7 runs, and 0 Ks – yikes!), but to the more discerning observer, Weber pitched pretty well. His best start came against Washington:
In 2016, Weber again found his way back to the big leagues, but this time as a reliever. He didn’t take to the role as well, and after the season was claimed on waivers by the Mariners. Weber made one start with the 2017 Mariners and pitched fairly well in it. He recently signed with the Chicago Cubs, where he’ll likely do what he’s done for the past few years – keep a phone handy and not disappoint the team that inevitably calls.
Is Weber the best ever to wear #68?
No. Here are the 3 best:
#3: Jorge Soler wore the number from ’14-’16 with the Cubs. Soler hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, but he did have some mildly productive seasons, including a helpful 2016 season for the World Champions.
#2: Matt Barnes, who has worn #68 throughout his career. He’s not a star, but he’s logged nearly 200 respectable innings in the number.
#1: Dellin Betances wears #68, and has for several years. He has a good chance to be the best reliever on what might be the greatest bullpen in history, which is pretty neat for a jersey number mostly ignored in baseball history. He’s by far the best player in big league history to wear #68: