In a deft move to strengthen their bullpen, the National League-leading Atlanta Braves secured two seasoned relievers on Monday. Right-hander Pierce Johnson, formerly of the Colorado Rockies, and lefty Taylor Hearn from the Texas Rangers, will now be donning the Braves' jersey.
This maneuver comes at a critical juncture for the Braves, with several key relievers nursing injuries.
Filling a Void in the Bullpen
Relievers Nick Anderson, suffering from a right shoulder strain, Dylan Lee with a left shoulder inflammation, and Jesse Chavez who is dealing with a bruised left shin, are all currently on the 60-day injured list.
This has left the team in a precarious position, necessitating the decision to trade. Alex Anthopoulos, the Braves' general manager, on a conference call with reporters, shed light on the challenges faced by the team, saying, "You just don't know what's going to happen.
You just don't know what needs you're gonna have, what injuries you're gonna have. You can't take anything for granted at any time."
Two New Faces, Multiple Possibilities
The Braves' new acquisitions promise to inject a fresh dynamic into their bullpen.
Pierce Johnson, despite a patchy recent record (1-5, 6.00 ERA), has demonstrated an uptick in form, allowing only six earned runs in the last 15 innings. Addressing Johnson's less than stellar statistics, Anthopoulos remarked, "I know the numbers on the surface aren't great.
But he's still getting lots of swings and misses. We think there's upside there and room to improve." In contrast, Taylor Hearn had a rocky start with the Rangers this season, posting a 10.29 ERA in four relief appearances, leading to his demotion to Triple-A Round Rock in mid-April.
But he has rebounded nicely, tallying a 2-2 record and a 3.66 ERA in 24 outings for the minor-league team. On Hearn, Anthopoulos noted, "He's got a great arm, a power arm. We'll see him get in the strike zone a little bit more. But the fact is he's got big stuff. He has experience starting. He's a nice piece for us to take a shot at."