Braves ‘most loaded’ bullpen in baseball entering 2023

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The Braves have an elite or near-elite player at damn near every position on the roster. The club placed seven on the MLB Network’s Top 10 Position Rankings, which was the second-most among all of baseball. Austin Riley, Matt Olson, Michael Harris II, Ronald Acuna Jr., Max Fried, Sean Murphy, and Travis d’Arnaud were all honored.

It’s a loaded team. Atlanta will regularly contend for a World Series title because of the excellent roster construction done by Alex Anthopoulos. To me, his most impressive work is the job he’s done building the Braves bullpen. Though it might not feature an Edwin Diaz-esque arm, it’s arguably the deepest relief core in baseball; recognized it as the best unit entering 2023:

Relief pitcher: Braves (4.5 WAR)
Key player(s): Raisel Iglesias, A.J. Minter, Collin McHugh

Iglesias was tremendous for Atlanta after the Braves acquired him from the Angels prior to the Trade Deadline, pitching to a 0.34 ERA in 28 appearances down the stretch. In eight MLB seasons, the right-hander owns a 3.00 ERA and 157 saves, spending the first five-plus seasons of his big league career with the Reds.

Minter continues to be a reliable late-inning lefty with closing experience. He had a 2.06 ERA and struck out 35 percent of the batters he faced over a career-high 75 appearances (70 innings) last year.

McHugh was great in his first season with Atlanta, posting a 2.60 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over 58 appearances (69 1/3 innings). He’s 35, but hasn’t shown any signs that time is catching up with him just yet.

Rasiel Iglesias is the assumed closer because he’s done it before. And why shouldn’t he? The former Angels closer posted a 4.04 ERA in 35.2 innings in Los Angeles before the trade. Once he arrived in Atlanta, he was untouchable. Through 28 games with the Braves, Iglesias posted an eye-popping 0.34 ERA.

A.J. Minter is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.06 ERA over 70 innings. He struck out over a third of the batters he faced and had a sub-1.000 WHIP; the burley righty is among the most underrated players in the sport.

Collin McHugh had an impressive 2022 campaign too — 2.60 ERA with a 0.938 WHIP over 69.1 innings. Kirby Yates is looking to bounce back for the Braves after a lackluster 2022 season in which he posted an ERA over 4.00, and the new kids on the block are Joe Jimenez and Lucas Luetge.

Luetge had a 2.71 ERA over the last two seasons for New York and throws a baffling curveball. He also went more than an inning in 16 of his 50 appearances last season. The former Yankee isn’t some hard thrower; he’s closer to the type of pitcher McHugh is — one that induces a ton of soft contact.

Jiménez is coming off a career year, posting a 3.49 ERA, and his 2.00 FIP suggests he’s in line for some positive regression. He might be the one I am most excited to see throw this year. Then, there are guys like Dylan LeeDennis SantanaNick AndersonJesse Chavez, and Jackson Stephens.

It’s a crazy talented group, and Brian Snitker will yet again have a bevy of weapons to use late in games.

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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