Sunday, May 19, 2013
Braves in need of relief
By Jason Catania
So much for the vaunted Atlanta Braves bullpen.
Over the course of three days, here's what's happened to three of the club's top relievers:.
Jonny Venters, who has missed all of 2013 so far, underwent his second Tommy John surgery Thursday and is officially out for the rest of the year.
Jordan Walden was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation Friday.
Eric O'Flaherty is facing his own elbow surgery to address a torn ulnar collateral ligament, GM Frank Wren said Saturday.
That leaves the Braves bullpen with All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning...and not a heck of a lot else to bridge the gap.
To help this rapidly-deteriorating situation, Atlanta has recalled right-hander Cory Rasmus and signed veteran righty Kameron Loe. For now, though, only Rasmus was added to the 25-man, and Atlanta will stick with a six-man pen, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
In addition to Rasmus, the club still has sidewinding Cory Gearrin (0.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) and Anthony Varvaro (2.45, 0.95), as well as David Carpenter, who was claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox last offseason. While there's a dropoff without the hard-throwing Walden to be the top right-hander after Kimbrel, the Braves still have weapons from the right side.
It's the left side, though, that now poses a major problem, since both Venters and O'Flaherty are southpaws, meaning perhaps the best duo of lefties in any bullpen in the majors are now gone for the year.
The club will need to rely much more heavily on Luis Avilan, a capable lefty, but one with all of 52 innings of big league experience.
It's going to be tough to go the trade route this early in the season, especially since there isn't exactly a large supply of lefty relievers out there. But if Wren wanted to at least explore his options via trade, he could probably check in with the Miami Marlins to see about the availability of some of their relievers, including closer Steve Cishek or southpaw Mike Dunn.