The Braves kick off a tough stretch of the schedule versus the red-hot Red Sox at home tonight at Truist Park. Boston has won eight of their last nine games, performing much better than most expected them to at the start of the season. A big reason for that is Kenley Jansen, who served as the Braves closer in 2022. With the active leader in saves returning to Atlanta for the first time, I thought it would be a good time to check back in on how he and the rest of the 2022 Braves are performing in their new threads.
Jansen may have provided Braves fans numerous heart attacks last season, but he still led the league in saves with 41 and posted a more than respectable 3.38 ERA. With Boston, he may not have as many save opportunities, but he’s making the most of them early on. Jansen has saved eight games in nine tries and has only given up one run all season, good for a 0.84 ERA. The Braves bullpen is just fine, especially with Raisel Iglesias back healthy, but it sure would be nice to have an arm like Jansen at the back-end again.
Duvall is another player I would have loved on the team again in 2023 that found his way in Boston. He began the year on a tear, smacking four homers and accruing 1.1 fWAR in just eight games, but unfortunately, he’s now on the 60-day IL with a fractured wrist and has not played since early April. Duvall will be out until at least mid-June.
The Braves have to be happy with how the Sean Murphy trade has turned out. He’s been the best player in baseball over the first month-and-a-half of the season, but William Contreras is proving his All-Star campaign a year ago was no fluke. His defense has been much improved in Milwaukee, and he owns a .766 OPS despite only having two homers. Given power has never been an issue with Contreras, don’t be surprised if he finds himself back in numerous All-Star games with the Brewers.
Muller was another headliner in the trade that landed Sean Murphy in Atlanta, except the tall lefty ended up in Oakland. Muller was actually the A’s Opening Day starter, but he’s had a rough go of it early in the season, posting a 6.62 ERA and -0.1 fWAR through his first seven outings.
Smith may not have turned out to be the dominant reliever the Braves hoped he’d be when they inked him to a lucrative three-year, $40 million contract prior to the 2020 season, but he’s still a valuable bullpen piece that is having some success in Texas with the Rangers. Through 13 appearances, Smith owns a 3.46 ERA and 3.19 FIP.
Once one of the Braves top prospects within the organization, Davidson is now serving in a relief role with the Angels and providing some optimism about his future. He owns an unsightly 5.94 ERA over 16.2 innings, but his 2.69 FIP suggests some abysmal luck. Davidson’s surface levels numbers should positively regress as the season continues.
Grossman had some big moments for the Braves last season, but he’s nothing more than a reserve outfielder that can start in a pinch, a role Kevin Pillar has filled nicely as his replacement. In 28 games for the Rangers, Grossman owns a .661 OPS with three homers.
The Braves have certainly felt the hole left by Dansby Swanson in 2023, particularly defensively while Orlando Arcia was injured. Swanson’s bat has cooled off considerably after a hot start, but he still owns a .748 OPS and is playing Gold Glove defense for the Cubs, which is why he has already accrued 1.4 WAR through 34 games. Swanson may not turn out to be worth the $177 million he garnered from Chicago, but he’s a winner that is already benefitting a rebuilding franchise tremendously.
Photo: Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire
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