It didn’t take John Hart long to find a lefty specialist to replace Chasen Shreve. On January 7, the Braves announced they had signed LHP Josh Outman to a one-year deal. Not only does he have the most suiting last name of all time for a relief pitcher, Outman is a force against left-handed hitters. He also meets the requirements to join the Braves’ pitching staff as he had Tommy John Surgery earlier in his career. Outman will team up with Luis Avilan for the LOOGY role in Atlanta (Left-Handed One Out Guy). He held left handed hitters to a .169 batting average last season, but righties hit a high .304 off him. Outman spent time with the Indians and the Yankees over the course of last season. The 30-year-old’s resume is somewhat bizarre as it seems as if he has had more success pitching in the American League than the National League. The 6-year veteran finished with a 2.86 ERA over 40 appearances last season, and if utilized correctly by Fredi Gonzalez he should be a valuable contributor to this year’s bullpen. If Luis Avilan’s struggles continue over from last season, Outman could see an increased role, as LHP James Russell actually had more success against righties than lefties last season. Year by year, Outman has seen mixed results at the big league level, but I have the ultimate trust in Roger McDowell to get the most out of his arm. Outman is a fastball guy and uses his slider as his two-strike pitch to accumulate a high strikeout rate. He averaged 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings last season. With our stockpile of veteran arms like Outman at our disposal I think Atlanta will have a dynamic bullpen once again this season and one of the top pitching staffs in the National League.
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