For all the flack the starters are currently receiving, and they deserve it for the results over the last month, the bullpen has blossomed into one of the best in baseball since the acquisitions of Pierce Johnson and Brad Hand at the trade deadline.
As I wrote yesterday, the two newcomers have yet to allow a run over 9.1 innings of work, but their presence have also taken a lot of pressure off the rest of the group. Raisel Iglesias looks like one of the best closers in baseball again. He boasts a 1.20 ERA over his last 16 appearances, with opponents managing just a .491 OPS against him.
A.J. Minter has been lights out since returning from the IL, allowing just one run over 4.2 innings (1.93 ERA). Joe Jimenez has also become a reliable set up man, owning a 1.08 ERA over his last 17 appearances, and Kirby Yates has recorded a 2.63 ERA over his last 27 outings. Not to mention, Dylan Lee could return as early as this week, and Jesse Chavez doesn’t appear to be that far behind.
As a whole, the Braves bullpen is as deep as any in baseball. The only guy that really hasn’t lived up to the billing of late is Collin McHugh, and he’s been one of the best relievers in the game over the last five seasons. If the Braves can get him going down the stretch and into the postseason, this group will be a deadly weapon for Brian Snitker to use come October. Combine that with the Braves historically great offense, and the Braves don’t need their starting pitchers to be elite to come away with victories. They just need them to be better than they have been over the last month.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire