The two unsung heroes of the Atlanta Braves pitching staff

MLB: APR 27 Guardians at Braves

The Atlanta Braves offense has been the talk of the town over the last month, and unlike last year, it is for all of the wrong reasons. This is a group that set numerous records in 2023 but has performed among the worst lineups in baseball since late April. However, the Braves still sit nine games over .500, well within reach of the Philadelphia Phillies in the NL East, thanks to a pitching staff that has performed exceptionally, even without its ace in Spencer Strider, who was lost for the season after just two starts.

Much of the credit goes to the top of the Atlanta Braves rotation. Max Fried, Chris Sale, and Reynaldo L√≥pez have been three of the best pitchers in all of baseball to this point. Atlanta’s top guys in the bullpen have also exceeded expectations. However, the two best relievers for the Braves through the first two months might surprise you, even if they really shouldn’t.

Those would be Dylan Lee and Jesse Chavez. They aren’t necessarily high-leverage guys, but every time they toe the rubber — no matter the situation — they’ve been damn near perfect. Lee has bounced back marvelously from a 2023 campaign that ended with a shoulder injury. Those can typically be difficult to recover from, but don’t tell him that. Over 24.1 innings, Lee has an absurd 1.11 ERA and 370 ERA+ (270% above league average).

Jesse Chavez isn’t far behind either. The 40-year-old spent Spring Training with the White Sox and was so disappointing that the worst team in baseball let him go. Of course, the Braves were right there to scoop him back up as they have been so many times before, and Chavez has delivered, boasting a 1.52 ERA over 23.2 innings.

It doesn’t even make sense, but this is really who Chavez and Lee have been for a long time with the Braves. Lee recorded a 2.13 ERA in 50.2 innings back in 2022, his last healthy season. And Alex Anthopoulos just can’t seem to get rid of Jesse Chavez, despite trading him and letting him walk on several occasions. In his last two seasons for the Atlanta Braves, he owns a 1.54 ERA over 58.1 innings. These two deserve a lot more credit for the success of Atlanta’s pitching staff, which has been among the best in the league through two months.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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