There aren’t many pitchers that can claim they are one of the most successful at what they do over a period of time longer than a week. Former Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Eric O’Flaherty is one of the rare people who can do that. In spite of that fact the Braves were outbid in number of years for his services and he went to the Oakland Athletics. Why would they do that?
Actually you may be surprised that I sort of agree with their not signing him to a deal instead of the A’s. On one hand I do understand the value O’Flaherty brings to a bullpen as a dominant lefty that can close games if the need arises and excels in the eighth inning as well. All the same, a team had to take into considering the risk that comes along with a pitcher recently off of surgery.
No one knows Tommy John surgery and its recovery better than the Braves and they saw in Brandon Beachy that a return in the middle of the season is far from a guarantee that the pitcher will return to form for the rest of the season. Beachy looks to be fine now but the 2013 season was almost a total wash.
For the impact a relief pitcher like O’Flaherty could have, he also would be put in touchy situations that would test him greatly. For a two year deal, the team is gambling that he will be back to form by the end of the first year and the entirety of the second one. That wouldn’t make sense for the Braves to take such a risk.
In 2013 the Braves had the best bullpen ERA in the National League for basically the entire season after the injuries to O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters. The same group that pulled that off last season is going to be back with the Braves this season. Therefore, they don’t need to take the two-year risk to achieve the same goal because they can do it without him. It really is that simple. Here is hoping O’Flaherty returns to form and squashes the A.L. anyway though.