2013 Closer Update: Atlanta Bravesposted by Jon Williams
Johnny Venters has a sprain in his elbow and is likely to start the season on the disabled list. As if this was not bad enough news for Braves fans, Jordan Walden, who would seem the most likely candidate to replace Venters as next-in-line to Craig Kimbrel, has been dealing with abulging disc in his back and is also questionable to start the season on the 25-man roster. This makes Eric O'Flaherty the primary set-up man for a while. Kimbrel is still a safe bet as the closer but the Braves bullpen beyond him is in a period of instability.
The Braves are holding the best closer in the league and one of the best bullpen staffs. Craig Kimbrel is as dominating as they come with a 16.66 K9 in 2012. His continually improving control just makes him look better and better, his BB9 has improved every season to 2.01 in 2012. Johnny Venters was hit a little harder than usual in 2012 but on the surface his indicating stats are mostly unchanged. Although Venters continued to throw in the mid-90s he did see his velocity reduced by around 1MPH. Walden was the closer for the Los Angeles Angels in 2011 and with a solid performance this spring could move ahead of Venters in the closer rankings. Walden throws in the high 90s (though he too saw his velocity reduced a bit in 2012) and strikes out more than a btter per inning but has the type of control that can make managers nervous in the ninth.
Closer – Craig Kimbrel
Disabled – Johnny Venters
Disabled – Jordan Walden
Temporary Next– Eric O’Flaherty
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