Jason Grilli ruptured his Achilles’ Tendon in Denver last July and the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen never recovered. Will Grilli be ready for Opening Day?
With the pitchers and catchers having their first practice session Friday morning in Lake Buena Vista, Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Jason Grilli was running and throwing off the mound. Grilli plans to remain the closer for the Atlanta Braves come Opening Day 2016.
This is fantastic news for Braves Country, as the 39-year-old righthander was one of the club’s better pitchers during the 2015 MLB season. Grilli saved 24 games with the 2015 Atlanta Braves in his first season with the team before rupturing his Achilles’ Tendon trying to make a play on the first base bag against the Colorado Rockies in the final series before the 2015 MLB All-Star Break.
Jason Grilli had stepped in and assumed the closer role for the 2015 Atlanta Braves after the front office promptly traded away its franchise closer Craig Kimbrel to the San Diego Padres before the start of the 2015 MLB season.
When Grilli was the team’s closer, the Braves had a respectable late inning crew in their bullpen with Jim Johnson as the team’s setup man. It was the middle relief that the Braves could never get right in 2015. After Grilli’s injury and a series of trades, the Braves’ bullpen couldn’t hold any lead and the team spiraled out of control in August and September, finishing with the third worst record in baseball.
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Though right-hander Arodys Vizcaino was the lone bright spot as the team’s ninth inning guy in 2015 after Jason Grilli’s injury, the Atlanta Braves organization cannot tolerate another dismal year from its bullpen.
For the team to progress towards competitiveness as early as 2017, the first step in the seeing results on the big league roster is to solidify the bullpen. Not having a leaky bullpen will allow the young starting pitchers to gain confidence every time they take the mound, not having to pitch a near-perfect game to give the Braves hope of winning ball games.
With strong right-handers like Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson, and Arodys Vizcaino returning to the Atlanta Braves bullpen in 2016, one could think that the front office is making the necessary steps to ensure that 2016 will be a step in the right direction towards fielding a competitive team in 2017 and beyond.