Atlanta Braves Reliever Jordan Walden May be Best Choice as Setup Man After All
Last week, I ran through a list of the top four choices who could fit as the Atlanta Braves‘ new setup man following injuries to several key members of their bullpen, including left-handers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, each of whom underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month.
Ultimately, I chose Gory Gearrin, Atlanta’s 27-year-old right-handed sidewinder, to be the team’s new eighth-inning guy.
And although I hate to do this as a sportswriter, I’ve just got to say it: I was wrong.
In my opinion, the Braves have a better option coming back soon, as Jordan Walden, who has been on the disabled list since May 12 with a right shoulder injury, is eligible to return any day now.
“He’s scheduled to throw an inning,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said to Evan Peaslee of MLB.com before Walden pitched a scoreless seventh inning with one strikeout for Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday. “He’ll check back us with on whether he needs another outing, or whatever he feels.”
As a result of the 25-year-old’s aforementioned line, it may be time to bring him back and insert him as the setup man for closer Craig Kimbrel.
When I picked Gearrin, I did so based on his microscopic 0.90 ERA at the time, but that mark has jumped to 2.05 over the past week. While that’s due to the three runs he allowed in his last outing on Sunday, he has seemed shaky since moving into a more crucial role.
Walden is more used to late-inning situations, given that he served as the setup man for the Los Angeles Angels during his rookie year in 2010 and became the team’s full-time closer in 2011.
Therefore, I think it’s time for the flamethrowing righty to return to his roots.