Wednesday night was not favorable one for Braves fans, as Atlanta fell to the Dodgers and the Phillies cruised in Cincinnati, dropping the Braves to 2.5 games back in the NL East. It was not long ago Atlanta sat with the best record and largest division lead in the National League. But the last month and half, some of the flaws that many attributed the Braves prior to the season have started to show their true colors. Inconsistencies in the pitching staff to go along with and offense that has failed to sustain it’s stance as the best in the National League have resulted in a slide of late. If there were ever a time it felt like the Braves need a jolt, the kind of jolt you can only get from a trade, it was now.
Following the result of Wednesday night’s lost, Atlanta made their first move of the trade season. They acquired an old friend in Johnny Venters who somewhat miraculously has made a comeback to the majors after a litany of not just injuries, Tommy John surgeries. Venters is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 22 appearances this season for the Rays. This is the 33-year olds first action since 2012, when he was 27 years old. The story gets even better now that he returns to his home where he became feared as one of the best relievers in baseball.
His first two seasons in the majors, Venters recorded at least 80+ innings pitched with a sub-two ERA, receiving All-Star honors in 2011. In 2012, elbow issues struck Venters again and haunted him until he became a distant memory on the diamond. Hopefully, his return will bring back old memories, because the Braves desperately need left-handed relief help.
Outside of A.J Minter, the Braves have not had reliable relief help from the left side. Sam Freeman has been an absolute mess since having a nice first month of the season. While his stuff is nice enough to make it in the majors, his control has been an ongoing issue, and it is just about time the Braves stop putting him on the mound. Jesse Biddle has been effective in his first stint in the majors, but it might be tough for the Braves to rely on him throughout the stretch.
Atlanta has made it clear their priority is adding pitching heading into the deadline. There is a strong possibility they bring in another starter, but it is a certainty they will continue to address their bullpen. Venters is just the beginning of a complete renovation of the pen. Adding to the bullpen is the easiest way for the team to improve for a playoff run this year and keep their focus on the future by not trading away valuable assets.