The Atlanta Braves announced on Tuesday that Jonny Venters will miss the next four weeks as he deals with elbow pain.
Jonny will be shut down for a period of four weeks. After that, he will begin a throwing program.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 2, 2013
Manager Fredi Gonzalez and the Atlanta Braves already felt the impact of his loss in Monday night’s opener against the Philadelphia Phillies. Starter Tim Hudson was unable to get through the fifth inning, and a trio of Luis Avilan, Eric O’Flaherty and Jordan Walden were called upon to ensure the Braves had a lead for closer Craig Kimbrel.
That will be the story out of the bullpen for the next month. The Braves managed to hold on for the 7-5 victory as the bullpen did just enough on this night. The unsung hero on Monday night as well as the pitcher to gain more responsibility moving forward is Avilan. The left-hander came in the fifth inning with runners on second and third with one out and a one-run lead. He managed to strike out Ryan Howard and forced a weak groundout by Domonic Brown to hold the Braves’ lead. He also worked a scoreless sixth inning to keep the momentum with the Braves.
The Braves will need solid performances from their middle relief in the absence of Venters. The combination of Avilan, Walden and Cory Gearrin will be the pitchers counted on to produce in those middle innings without Venters. Avilan makes the most sense to work primarily left-handed hitters as he has a tailing fastball that moves off the plate inside against them. Gearrin will get the right-handed assignments while Walden is more of a straight strikeout pitcher.
The Braves don’t need anything extra special from any one of these guys, but it will take a combination of solid efforts in the right situations for the bullpen to have success in the absence of Venters.