There’s absolutely nothing the Atlanta Braves can do to bring back left-handed relievers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty this season, as each was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery over the past nine days.
What they can do, however, is try their best to prevent such procedures from having to be done in the future.
I hate to compare an actual MLB team to the squads I’ve put together on video games, but I can’t help but do so in this case, as I have always done my best to keep my bullpen from throwing too many innings, which results in better performances down the stretch and throughout the playoffs.
A digital ‘pen is certainly much different than an actual one, but I believe the same thought process can be applied. Less innings obviously equal less wear and tear.
With that said, I’m not blaming Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez for using the incredible trio of Venters, O’Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel as much as he did in previous years. I probably would’ve done the same thing in a real-life situation.
So why am I attempting to bring my video-game mentality into reality?
I just think more can be done to keep so many relievers from going on the shelf. While some guys are simply injury-prone like Venters, who has a history of elbow problems, having now had two Tommy John surgeries in his career, the fact of the matter is that baseball is a 162-game season. Every game is important, but not as much as they would be in a 16-game league like the NFL.
Baseball is all about the long-haul, and even though you’ve got to ride your best players to the postseason, you still want them as healthy and rested as possible come October.