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Atlanta Braves Bullpen Still Strong with Loss of Eric O’Flaherty

May 20th, 2013 at 8:49 AM
By Cody Fields

The Atlanta Braves bullpen is riddled with injuries, but if they keep up their current pace, there is nothing to worry about.

Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty are gone for the year with Tommy John surgery. Luis Ayala has been on the disabled list since late April with anxiety disorder. Cristhian Martinez was moved to the DL with shoulder problems to make room for Ayala on the roster. Jordan Walden, though he should be back soon, has his own shoulder issues.

But still, the Atlanta bullpen leads Major Leagues with a 2.65 ERA, 16 points lower than the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Of course, it starts with starters going deep into games. Braves starting pitchers are averaging slightly more than six innings per start, leaving the bullpen with essentially two setup men and Craig Kimbrel.

This dominance was evident over the weekend in their series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In three games, the bullpen threw just eight innings and gave up one run, a homer given up by O'Flaherty when his elbow was hurting.

Perhaps the most clutch arms this year have belonged to Cory Gearrin, Luis Avilan and Anthony Varvaro, who all have sub-2.50 ERAs at the moment. Gearrin, with his funky sidearm delivery, leads the team in ERA with a 0.92 mark in 23 appearances.

Pitching has always been a Braves hallmark, and even with all the homers, this year is no different.

Photo credit: taylor magnone / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Tags: Anthony Varvaro, Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Baseball, Cory Gearrin, Craig Kimbrel, Eric O'Flaherty, Jordan Walden, Luis Avilan, MLB

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