The Atlanta Braves are on fire. Since August 17th, the team has won 13 of their last 15 games. Surprisingly enough, the bullpen, yes the bullpen, has been the key to that sustained success.
After a rocky start to the season, where the Braves were at the top of MLB in blown saves, the Braves made multiple moves to solidify the bullpen at the July 31st trade deadline. Chris Martin, Mark Melancon, and Shane Greene were all added to improve the struggling bullpen. In the beginning, it didn’t go great. Greene, the Tigers closer before his trade, was quickly demoted after a succession of bad appearances. Greene was replaced by Melancon, who looked just as rocky at the start. Luke Jackson, the pitcher that was maligned all season for his blown saves, was put back in the closer position. It was a mess.
To make the picture clear, here a look at some of the numbers.
From August 1st to August 16th, the Atlanta Braves had the second-worst bullpen ERA in all of the NL. Since then, the Braves have been the best bullpen, posting a 2.16 ERA since August 17th. It’s been a complete turnaround, mainly from Shane Greene and Mark Melancon, that was coincided with the Braves success to close out the month of August.
The Braves have been fortune in their timing of their bullpen’s coming together. The Washington Nationals, the team directly behind the Braves in the NL East, refuse to lose. Luckily, the Braves have adopted the same goal. As of today, September 3rd, the Braves have a 6.5 game lead on the Nationals. If the bullpen had been half as good since August 17th, this Braves team could be looking up at the Nationals instead of down.
With a four-game series coming up with the Nationals this week, the Braves will be looking to ride this good fortune for a little longer. Depending on what happens with Atlanta and Washington tonight, the Braves will be holding onto a 5.5-7.5 game lead going into the series with the Nationals. The four-game series this week will be critical to who will be hoisting the NL East trophy at the end of the season. With the bullpen thriving, the Braves look like their in great position moving forward.
Before the Nationals series can begin, the Braves will need to finish strong against the Toronto Blue Jays tonight. In the final game of the short two-game series, the Braves will send Mike Foltynewicz out looking for the series sweep. First pitch tonight will be at 7:20. Chop On!!