The New Closer Situation for the Braves

Jason Grilli will indeed miss the rest of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Jim Johnson will assume the closing role for the Braves. Johnson (2-3) has pitched 43 innings this season with a 2.09 ERA. Johnson has also appeared in 8 save situations for the Braves this year, in which he saved 5 of them successfully. He, along with Grilli, has been the Braves’ most consistent relievers all season. Johnson spent the 2012 and the 2013 seasons as the closer for the Baltimore Orioles. In both seasons he saved over 50 games and was regarded as one of the best closers in the game. If Johnson can help himself from walking batters, his success should continue as the closer for the Braves.

Jim Johnson closing with the Orioles

However, it is unclear how long Johnson could be the closer. Braves beat writer for Mark Bowman mentioned the possibility of the Braves trading Johnson before the deadline, and in that case Arodys Vizcaino could assume the closer role.

Vizcaino has just recently come off an 80-game suspension for PED use and appeared in 4 games for the Braves. He has pitched 3 innings and has yet to give up a run. His fastball has been clocked anywhere from 98-100 mph, and he could be a closing option in the future for the Braves. Another guy who may get an opportunity if Johnson was traded is Mike Foltynewicz. Folty has started and pitched in relief for the Braves this season. His numbers look pretty terrible on paper. He is 3-2 with a 5.27 ERA, but he also has a fastball that sits in the high 90’s and a hook that drops off the table. He looks like he has the stuff that could really succeed in the MLB, but has just yet to put it all together. He may be a guy who is better served in the bullpen, but for now the Braves want to continue to try him out as a starter. According to Bowman, he’s likely to be starting for Gwinnett again after the All-Star Break.

Jason Grilli was strongly linked to the Blue Jays before the break, and the next couple weeks will dictate whether the Braves will buy or sell at the deadline. Jim Johnson has had a nice year, and if John Hart things the return is good, Johnson could be out the door. But for now, Johnson occupies the closing role for Atlanta.



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