The Atlanta Braves bullpen has always haunted the team in the postseason. Just saying that phrase conjures up images of Craig Kimbrel pacing in the bullpen while Juan Uribe admires his go ahead home run off of David Carpenter in game 4 of the 2013 NLDS.
Well, these aren’t those Atlanta Braves. In all my time being a Braves fan, this is the first time that I haven’t been a nervous wreck when the Braves bullpen was called upon in the playoffs. Even against the mighty Dodgers lineup, I really did not feel that nervous in game 1. That is a feeling I could get used to.
When Alex Anthoupolous took over in 2018, he inherited a bullpen that was lacking an identity. It had a great closer in AJ Minter, but other than him, the pen as a whole was lacking. He didn’t get a chance to do much his first year, but starting last season, he began laying the groundwork for the unit we have today.
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AJ Minter had a breakout season in 2018 as the Braves new rookie closer, making a name for himself that summer. I won’t be talking about him too much here, but he has been a huge part of the Braves bullpen in 2020 after a rough 2019.
One member of the bullpen who does not get talked about much is Darren O’Day. He was an afterthought in the Kevin Gausman trade with the Orioles, a salary dump who was not going to pitch in 2018 due to hamstring issues. He didn’t get to pitch much in 2019, being activated in early September.
However, O Day has been a solid member of the Braves bullpen this season. In only 16. innings, he has 22 strikeouts, a 1.10 ERA, and a .796 WHIP. He is probably considered to be one of the “worst” relievers on this postseason roster. That just shows how much depth AA has built up in his time here.