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Atlanta Braves: Jonny Venters’ Struggles Continue, May Continue to See Reduced Role

June 4th, 2012 at 11:37 PM
By Jonathan McCullough

Jonny Venters has continued to struggle over the past month, and it appears he may have been relegated to a lesser role in the Atlanta Braves bullpen.

Venters had two unbelievable seasons in 2010 and 2011, and he was off to a dominant start in April. He didn't allow a run through the first month while also striking out 17 batters in 8 2/3 innings to begin the season. However, when May rolled around, Venters struggled mightily. In 11 innings in May, Venters gave up ten runs (eight earned) on 22 hits. He's given up three home runs as well, matching his total from the previous two seasons combined. His strikeouts are also down a little by his standards, as he struck out nine batters over the span of those 11 innings.

"Giving up homers [stinks]," Venters said. "It just shows that my sinker has not been sinking. It's been up in the zone. Normally, I get all ground balls. I haven't been doing that either. Guys have been elevating and hitting the ball in the air. It just shows I'm leaving balls up and my stuff is not doing what I want it to."

It stands to reason that fans may wonder if Venters' heavy workload over the past two seasons has had a negative effect on his production this season. Venters feels fine and appears to be healthy, as his fastball still routinely hits 94-95 mph. However, he is not getting the movement he is used to seeing. He is hoping it is a simple mechanical issue that can be fixed.

In the meantime, it seems that Venters is no longer the set-up man for closer Craig Kimbrel. With Venters coming in earlier in games and Eric O'Flaherty pitching the eighth inning in Sunday's victory over the Washington Nationals, it appears the bullpen roles have been shifted, at least temporarily.

The Braves certainly hope Venters regains his form of the past two seasons, when he posted sub-2 earned run averages. If the Braves are going to compete in the loaded National League East division, Venters needs to be healthy and productive.

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Jonny Venters, MLB

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