Braves: Jesse Chavez among best relievers of the last two seasons

MLB: JUN 14 Rays at Braves

Jesse Chavez is almost like a running joke amongst Braves fans because his story doesn’t make any sense.

The now 40-year-old is a career journeyman that’s never been much more than an average starter/reliever over his lengthy nearly 20-year career that began all the way back in 2008. However, something changed when he put a Braves jersey on for his second stint in Atlanta a few years back.

The Braves were desperate for relief help, turning to the veteran Chavez, who wasn’t expected to do much other than eat some innings. Instead, he went on to be one of the team’s best relievers, posting a 2.14 ERA and tossing 7.1 scoreless innings on the way to helping Atlanta to its first championship since 1995.

However, as Braves fans know, that’s only the beginning of Chavez’s story. He’s been released, left unsigned, and traded by the Braves more times than I can count over the last few years. Alex Anthopoulos seems to have no interest in bringing him back every season, yet somehow he ends up donning a tomahawk across his chest each year. With the Braves, Jesse Chavez is reminiscent of Mariano Rivera; with everyone else, he looks like he might struggle to toss scoreless innings in beer league softball.

It’s one of the most unexplainable phenomena in a game full of unexplainable phenomena, and Jesse Chavez has been up to his old tricks yet again in 2024.

After a miserable Spring Training stint with the White Sox, quite literally the worst team in baseball, Chicago opted to designate Chavez for assignment. Soon after, he was back in Atlanta, and he might be having the best year of his career. Over nearly 30 innings, Chavez boasts a 1.21 ERA, which tops the mark he set last year for the Braves of 1.56.

We can talk about strikeouts, FIP, and whatever other analytical device one might prefer. But at the end of the day, this game is about run prevention, and over the last two seasons, only one pitcher in all of baseball has been better in that department.

I briefly discussed last season that Jesse Chavez could potentially be an All-Star for the first time in his career. The numbers certainly suggested he was deserving; however, an injury before the break knocked that possibility off the table. But perhaps that’s a conversation worth discussing over the next few weeks.

There isn’t a reliever in baseball that’s been more consistently elite for their team than Jesse Chavez has been for the Atlanta Braves since 2021. Even though it’s incredibly difficult to be named an All-Star as a reliever, he’s deserving. What a poetic ending to a career that would be?

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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