It’s a crime Jesse Chavez has not been named an All-Star

MLB: JUN 14 Rays at Braves

Last night, the Braves won their fourth game in a row and second straight against the Diamondbacks with a nearly flawless performance on the road. Chris Sale was his typical dominant self, allowing just two runs over 5.1 innings with nine strikeouts. The offense, led by Adam Duvall, who had a monstrous three-run bomb, racked up six runs. But I still came out of last night most impressed with Jesse Chavez, who just keeps shoving for the Braves every time he toes the rubber.

Sure, he may have entered the game with a four-run lead and a runner on third. It wasn’t the highest of leverages, but he was able to bridge the gap from the sixth inning through the eighth without surrendering a single run, which allowed the Braves to use just one other reliever, and A.J. Minter only needed three pitches to finish the ninth. Essentially, Chavez saved the entire bullpen, something that cannot be glossed over considering the Braves are coming off an 11-inning game and are amid a stretch of 13 games in 13 days.

It’s those kinds of things that often go overlooked over the course of a season but have a positive ripple effect on the entire bullpen for several days to come, and that’s the thing about Jesse Chavez. Need him to limit the damage of a bases loaded jam with nobody out? He’s your guy. Need a shutout frame in the 7th, 8th, or 9th? He can do that too. Multiple innings? No problem. Over the last several seasons for the Braves, he’s spun so many different plates, and it doesn’t matter what is asked of him on any given night, he delivers.

In the age of specialization, those types of arms don’t exist much today, but Jesse Chavez didn’t come from this era of baseball. The 40-year-old journeyman has a professional baseball career that is one of one, which is coming to a close in spectacular fashion in Atlanta, where he has morphed into one of the best relievers in the game since 2021.

This season, among relievers with at least 40 innings pitched, Jesse Chavez ranks fifth in ERA with a 1.56, which is the same mark he posted last season over 34.2 innings before going down with a fractured leg. In fact, since the beginning of the 2023 season, no reliever in baseball has a better ERA than Jesse Chavez (minimum 70 innings pitched). He has been one of the best relievers in the league for going on four seasons, and his work in Atlanta — and over his entire career — deserves to be recognized with his first All-Star appearance.

That doesn’t mean the players that made it are not deserving. Frankly, Major League Baseball needs to allow more spots for relievers in the All-Star Game. Not that they have to pitch, but there are at least 20 arms each season that deserve the recognition.

However, Major League Baseball has handed out legacy bids in the past. These are usually given to future Hall-of-Famers in the final season of their careers, like Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera. Jesse Chavez certainly isn’t on that level, but the league should still understand the importance of recognizing a player like him. A guy who has played the best ball of his life at the tail end of his career, never made an All-Star Game, and has spent nearly two decades at the major-league level. Chavez is deserving on merit alone, and missing out on this story is nothing short of ignorance.

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire


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