So the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen went from being one of their strengths to one of their weaknesses over the offseason. Considering they only have one lefty reliever in Luis Avilan, they’re searching for another. Jonny Venters, who underwent his second Tommy John surgery last year has had a slow recovery. Even if Venters comes back, it’s not guarantee he’s able to perform at the level he did when the Braves had O’Ventbrel,(O’Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel) O’Flaherty has since left for Oakland. O’Flaherty and Venters were looked at as the two best set up men in the MLB, both lefties, both dominant.
Right now, the Braves bullpen consists of Jordan Walden, Shae Simmons, Anthony Varvaro, Craig Kimbrel, David Hale, and Gus Schlosser. Hale is worked into the starting rotation from time to time, and he’s been nothing but dominant, but even still, not enough southpaw love. If they could add a lefty before the All-Star break, it could only help them. A very spotty bullpen has been one of the big reasons they haven’t won more games, we have seen some pretty epic late inning meltdowns.
One lefty reliever that the Braves have had their eye on the most is Andrew Miller of the Boston Red Sox. Miller mainly throws a fastball and a slider but his fastball is his best pitch, he throws it about 50% of the time, and it tops out at around 95mph. He’s has been one of the best relievers in the MLB this season; he has a WAR of 1.4 and is boasting a very solid 2.23 ERA. The Braves desperately need a lefty who can come in for relief, Avilan has been very up and down this year, and he’s had some games where he’s put up a total butcher job of a performance. Some of the time, it’s not his fault, though. Fredi Gonzalez has had to put him in some positions where he had a bad match up, but just didn’t have anyone else. Using the bullpen is a game of chess, if a manager can get a bad match up for the hitter; that team is more than likely to win that battle. Atlanta has also been looking at two lefties from the Cubs, Wesley Wright, and James Russell, but Miller is the main focus as of right now. If they miss out on the opportunity to trade for a dominant lefty reliever now, it could definitely hurt them in the long run.