Braves: Jesse Chavez appreciation post

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The Braves have already gotten their revenge on the Padres, winning the first two games of the series and stretching their win streak to eight. They’ve looked spectacular on all fronts. The starting pitchers — Max Fried and Spencer Strider — have yet to allow a run, the lineup has blasted four homers, and the bullpen continues to thrive despite missing two key pieces in Raisel Iglesias and Collin McHugh. A primary reason for that is the way other guys have stepped up, and nobody has been more reliable than the ageless Jesse Chavez.

For most of Chavez’s career, he’s been a journeyman, spending time as both a starter and a reliever over 16 years. You don’t spend that much time in the majors without bringing something to the table, but for the most part, he’s been an afterthought… until he arrived in Atlanta.

With the Braves, Chavez has produced at an All-Star level, and that’s not hyperbole. His first stint in Atlanta came in 2010, but Braves Country was reintroduced in 2021, as he quickly became a critical piece to a revived bullpen that helped the club to their first World Series title. He posted a 2.14 ERA over 33.2 innings during the regular season, and his success continued in the playoffs, tossing 6.1 scoreless innings.

That wasn’t enough for the Braves to immediately re-sign the following offseason, however. He went on to ink a one-year contract with the Cubs, but Alex Anthopoulos saw an opportunity to bring him back a few weeks into the season, and he didn’t pass it up.

The Braves traded back for Chavez, who was struggling in Chicago, in return for Sean Newcomb, who offered more upside for a rebuilding club. Newk didn’t work out in Chicago, but Chavez picked up right where he left off in Atlanta.

From late April 23rd to July 30th, Jesse Chavez appeared in 31 games for the Braves, recording a remarkable 2.11 ERA and 2.54 FIP over 38.1 innings. Still, it wasn’t enough to convince Alex Anthopoulos of his importance. The Braves ended up trading Chavez to the Angels at the deadline as part of the deal that landed them Raisel Iglesias.

I’m not sure Chavez himself could have blamed AA for including him in a trade that landed the team an All-Star closer, but this wouldn’t be the end of his story in Atlanta. After struggling with Los Angeles for about a month, he was eventually DFA’d, and the Braves were waiting and ready to scoop him up.

Chavez would go on to post a 1.86 ERA over his next 14 appearances. Unfortunately, there was no World Series waiting for him at the end of the road, but he had finally done enough for the Braves to re-sign him this offseason. The 39-year-old inked a minor-league contract to stay in Atlanta, and to the surprise of no one, he made the Opening Day roster out of camp.

Against the Padres, one could argue Jesse Chavez has pitched the two most pivotal innings of the series. Brian Snitker trusted him in the 8th inning of a 2-0 game with the heart of San Diego’s lineup waiting to step into the box. It wasn’t the prettiest inning, but Chavez was able to put up a zero thanks to an inning-ending double play off the bat of Manny Machado.

On Tuesday night, Chavez was once again thrust into a 2-0 game in the 7th inning, but this time, it was much easier on the heart. He shut down the Padres in order, and Ozzie Albies delivered a game-sealing three-run homer the following inning.

On the season, no pitcher has appeared in more games than Chavez. He’s seen the mound 10 different times, and the result has always been the same. Chavez has yet to give up a run over nine innings. He’s averaging a strikeout per inning and boasts a 0.667 WHIP.

To most, he may just be a journeyman strike-thrower, but with the Braves, Jesse Chavez has been one of the most reliable pitchers in baseball. He’s a big reason why the team won the World Series in 2021, and if another World Series is coming to Atlanta anytime soon, you can bet he will be right in the middle of it again.

Photo: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire

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