Atlanta Braves’ Bullpen Can Repeat 2013 Success
While it is clear that the Atlanta Braves have an obvious choice as the best reliever in all of baseball, it’s important to ask: how good is the bullpen as a whole?
Last season, the team had easily the best bullpen in all of baseball. They led all other MLB bullpens with a 2.46 total ERA and held opposing hitters to a measly .222 batting average against them. They also only allowed 126 earned runs in 460.2 innings pitched. How they did it was quite impressive, with only 419 strikeouts from the group. Only three teams had fewer Ks: the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals all with 418.
With the losses of Scott Downs, Eric O’Flaherty and without Jonny Venters until at least late May or early June, how good can this bullpen be in 2014? First off, who is going to be in the bullpen? The list starts obviously with Craig Kimbrel, but the rest of the bullpen will look something like this: Luis Avilan, Jordan Walden, Anthony Varvaro, Luis Ayala, David Carpenter and maybe Cory Gearrin.
Can they be as good as last season? It’ll be tough, but they all have the stuff and a good enough defense behind them to keep an ERA around the 2.50 mark. The staff isn’t strikeout-driven aside from Kimbrel, even though they have the ability to sit some guys down. They just have to keep the ball low in the zone, and most of them need to be able to keep runners off base on a regular basis due to their low strikeout ability.