Feb 3, 2011, 8:43 PM EST
Veteran southpaw Billy Wagner posted a superb 1.43 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 71 appearances for the Braves last season, saving 37 games and striking out 104 batters in 69.1 innings. He was ridiculously good, but he wanted to go out on top and called it quits as soon as the year was over.
Most teams would struggle with that kind of loss, but the Braves are rolling right along.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke this week with 22-year-old Craig Kimbrel, who is expected to battle 25-year-old Jonny Venters for the Braves’ ninth inning gig this spring. (For what it’s worth, O’Brien thinks Kimbrel is going to win it.)
“I’m ready to get things rolling,” Kimbrel said during Braves pitching camp at Turner Field on Tuesday. “It’s going to be a fun year. I’m just going to come in, get ready to pitch on the mound. Whatever role it’s in, I’ll be ready for it.”
Kimbrel, a righty, struck out 40 batters in just 20.2 innings last season during a short but impressive debut for the Braves. Venters, a lefty, also finished with great numbers — like a 1.95 ERA and 93/39 K/BB ratio.
Relievers are generally overrated, or at least over-discussed. After all, it’s hard to have much of an impact on a 162-game schedule when your contribution spans something like 50-60 innings. But the Braves are undoubtedly loving the fact that they have two cost-effective fireballers around to handle tight situations.
- Highlights from the Robinson Cano news conference 0
- Report: Two agents rumbled in the parking lot at the Winter Meetings 31
- Mets sign 40-year-old Bartolo Colon for two years, $20 million 40
- MLB rules committee decides to eliminate collisions at home plate 63
- Mariners sign Corey Hart to incentive-laden deal 28
- Robinson Cano agrees to $240 million deal with Mariners (260)
- Report: Yankees have agreed to a three-year deal with Carlos Beltran (125)
- Not everyone is happy about home plate collisions being taken away (124)
- Brett Gardner is drawing “significant” trade interest (113)
- Managers, GMs to meet today to discuss the abolition of home plate collisions (113)