Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Fantasy Baseball Daily Bullpen Updates and Closer Depth Chart

Closer 1st in line 2nd in line 2017 Closer Updated
ATL Jim Johnson Mauricio Cabrera Arodys Vizcaino Arodys Vizcaino 8/19/16
(DL) Chris Withrow

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Previous updates:

August 19, 2016
Atlanta Braves – Arodys Vizcaino was activated off the disabled list Thursday and will be eased back into the closer’s role, which seems like a great idea after he was charged with four runs (3 ER) in the seventh inning without recording an out Thursday night. For now, look for Jim Johnson and Mauricio Cabrera to handle the duties in the 8th and 9th innings. In related Braves news, lefty Ryan O’Flaherty shocked no one (6.94 ERA, 1.74 WHIP) when he cleared waivers. He can now be traded.

Updated hierarchy: Johnson | Cabrera | Vizcaino.

August 12, 2016
Atlanta Braves – Closer Arodys Vizcaino could rejoin the Braves bullpen as early as late next week as he continues to battle back from a strained oblique. It appears the team wants Vizcaino to make three rehab appearances before rejoining the big club. Meanwhile, closer Jim Johnson was claimed by an unknown team, but the Braves pulled him back after a deal could not be worked out.

Hierarchy remains: Johnson | Cabrera | Krol.

August 10, 2016
Atlanta Braves — As the Vulture Save Watch predicted, Jim Johnson got a night off, which paved the way for Mauricio Cabrera to collect his third save of the season. Ian Krol was sharp in the eighth inning, retiring both batters he faced. In other news, Shae Simmons was activated off the DL and placed on the Triple-A roster.

Hierarchy remains: Johnson | Cabrera | Krol.

August 9, 2016
Atlanta Braves — Chris Withrow has been placed on the 15-day DL with elbow pain. While his timetable is unclear, we expect Ian Krol to get more late-inning opportunities while Withrow is out.

Updated hierarchy: Johnson | Cabrera | Krol.

July 30, 2016
Atlanta Braves — Jim Johnson picked up his fifth save of the year by successfully protecting a one-run lead last night. With Atlanta in selling mode, however, teams like the Mets are inquiring about Johnson, and the Braves could be close to moving him. If he gets traded, it seems that Mauricio Cabrera — who pitched another clean eighth for his third straight hold — would get the first crack at saves.

Hierarchy remains: Johnson | Cabrera | Withrow.

July 27, 2016
Atlanta Braves — Chris Withrow now has eighth-inning holds in each of the last two Atlanta wins and has surpassed Dario Alvarez in the Braves hierarchy. Meanwhile, Mauricio Cabrera is still throwing gas, as he hit 102 twice on Tuesday.

Updated hierarchy: Johnson | Cabrera | Withrow.

July 15, 2016
Atlanta Braves — In an attempt to shake off nine days of rust, Brian Snitker called on Arodys Vizcaino in the ninth with the Braves down five. The move backfired terribly when Vizcaino exited after three pitches with what appeared to be a right oblique injury. After the game, Snitker announced that Vizcaino had injured a side muscle and was expected to hit the DL. Although 22-year-old Mauricio Cabrera has the “future closer” tag and a 100+ MPH fastball, Jim Johnson has closing experience and should have the edge for save chances over the short term. Johnson got the last save opportunity on July 10, and the Braves may want to boost his trade value. Vizcaino’s absence will allow more room in the late innings for lefthanded strikeout machine Dario Alvarez (23 K, 10.2 IP).

Updated hierarchy: Johnson | Cabrera | Alvarez.

July 11, 2016
Atlanta Braves – Arodys Vizcaino is suffering from some minor elbow troubles so Jim Johnson picked up the save in his place. If Vizcaino is dealt, Johnson and youngster Mauricio Cabrera will be battling for saves in Atlanta. (Stay tuned for our Trade Deadline Buy/Sell previews during the All Star break!)

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Johnson | Cabrera.

July 9, 2016
Atlanta Braves — With a four-run lead in the ninth inning, it was Mauricio Cabrera who got the ball for Atlanta. He was not quite as good as he has been recently, giving up a run on three hits, but he finished the game for the second straight day. Before the game, manager Brian Snitker indicated that Arodys Vizcaino is still the closer, but with trade rumors flying, Snitker seems to be preparing for life without him. Given recent usage, Cabrera is the most likely option to take the role when and if Vizcaino is traded — although the Braves may still want him to serve an apprenticeship under wise old Jim Johnson.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Cabrera | Johnson.

July 8, 2016
Atlanta Braves – Closer Arodys Vizcaino was unavailable Thursday after a rough outing Wednesday (1 IP, 2 ER, blown save, 21 pitches). In his place during an 11-inning affair against the Cubs? It was the recently called up Mauricio Cabrera, who pitched a clean 11th inning for his second save. With Vizcaino on the trade block, Cabrera could be the closer of the future in Atlanta.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Johnson | Cabrera.

July 1, 2016
Atlanta Braves – Recent call-up Mauricio Cabrera picked up his first career save for the Braves Thursday night after closer Arodys Vizcaino ran into some trouble in what was originally a non-save situation in the ninth. Vizcaino recorded two quick outs, but followed that by allowing two walks and an RBI single. Interim manager Brian Snitker then turned to Cabrera, who had never even pitched with the lead in his short career (two previous major league games). He was impressive, touching 102 mph on the radar gun in recording the final out. If Vizcaino gets traded, keep an eye on Cabrera.

Hierarchy remains: Vizcaino | Johnson | Cervenka.

June 24, 2016
Atlanta Braves – The bad Braves may be one of those teams that can offer relief help in the form of closer Arodys Vizcaino (2.01 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 9 SV, 44 Ks). Jon Heyman says Vizcaino is drawing “intense” interest, meaning Jim Johnson may be worth a speculative add. Stay tuned.

Hierarchy remains: Vizcaino | Johnson | Cervenka.

June 19, 2016
Atlanta Braves — As we expected, Arodys Vizcaino got the day off on Saturday and veteran Jim Johnson recorded the save with a scoreless ninth inning.  Johnson should continue to serve as closer whenever Vizcaino is unavailable.

Hierarchy remains: Vizcaino | Johnson | Cervenka.

June 8, 2016
Atlanta Braves — Jim Johnson got his first high-leverage work since returning from the DL and retired the side on 10 pitches to protect a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning. His ERA is still over 7.00, but at least he can say he had a better night than Arodys Vizcaino, who suffered his second blown save.

Hierarchy remains: Vizcaino | Johnson | Cervenka.

June 5, 2016
Atlanta Braves — Jim Johnson has returned from the DL and should slide back into his set-up role for now.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Johnson | Cervenka.

June 1, 2016
Atlanta Braves — Atlanta’s youth movement continues, as the Braves have decided to pay 39-year-old Jason Grilli to pitch in another country. The team does expect to get Jim Johnson back from the DL this Friday, and Shae Simmons’s return from Tommy John surgery shouldn’t be far behind. Until then, Alexi Ogando and Hunter Cervenka will protect Atlanta’s theoretical late-game leads.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Cervenka | Ogando.

May 11, 2016
Atlanta Braves — Jim Johnson and his 7.90 ERA hit the DL on Tuesday. Ian Krol was recalled from Triple-A, but another lefty, Hunter Cervenka, has been terrific for the Braves since his debut on April 12, throwing 14 straight scoreless innings. Holds are rare from the Braves bullpen, but Cervenka may be a source while Johnson is on the mend.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Grilli | Cervenka.

May 2, 2016
Atlanta Braves – Arodys Vizcaino was forced into action in the 8th inning, and couldn’t hold the lead through the 9th, as the game went to extras. Jason Grilli ended up picking up his second save of the year — Jim Johnson had already pitched early in the game.

Hierarchy remains: Vizcaino | Johnson | Grilli.

April 29, 2016
Atlanta Braves — When wins are as rare as they’ve been for the 5-17 Braves so far this season, you tend to make sure that your best pitchers are pitching when you actually have a chance to win a game. And with the Braves actually holding a lead late in Thursday’s game, Jason Grilli was nowhere to be found. Instead, for the second straight time, Jim Johnson picked up the eighth-inning hold ahead of Arodys Vizcaino. The Braves are still probably hoping they can get a prospect for Grilli midseason, but his poor start has kept him out of high-leverage chances since the season’s first week.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Johnson | Grilli.

April 23, 2016
Atlanta Braves — It doesn’t look like much of a committee in Atlanta. Jason Grilli’s only save was of the vulture variety, and he came in on Friday night with the Braves down three in the eighth.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Grilli | Johnson.

April 18, 2016
Atlanta Braves – The Braves wanted to give Arodys Vizcaino a day off on Sunday, so Jason Grilli was tapped for the save. He gave up the tying run, but fortunately for the Braves, they were able to retake the lead, allowing Matt Wisler to earn his first career save in extra innings. Wisler does not factor into the Braves’ usual late-inning plans.

Hierarchy remains: *Vizcaino | Grilli | Johnson.
* = closer-by-committee

April 17, 2016
Atlanta Braves — As expected, Arodys Vizcaino got the day off on Saturday, and Jason Grilli recorded his first save since last July.  Manager Fredi Gonzalez will be careful with Vizcaino, and he may be unavailable on Sunday, so Grilli should continue to see some save opportunities throughout the season.

Hierarchy remains: *Vizcaino | Grilli | Johnson.
* = closer-by-committee

April 16, 2016
Atlanta Braves — Arodys Vizcaino certainly made it interesting — loading the bases in the eighth and allowing two more baserunners in the ninth — but at the end of the day, he had his first save and the Braves their first win in ten tries.

Hierarchy remains: *Vizcaino | Grilli | Johnson.
* = closer-by-committee

April 6, 2016
Atlanta Braves – After a rough Opening Day outing for Jason Grilli, manager Fredi Gonzalez said that Arodys Vizcaino will be his top bullpen option. The problem is that Gonzalez is only concerned about Vizcaino facing the “tough part of the order.” So while he no longer leads the committee at the moment, Grilli is not out of the running for some cheap saves depending on matchups.

Updated hierarchy: *Vizcaino | Grilli | Johnson.
* = closer-by-committee

April 5, 2016
Atlanta Braves – Thirty-nine year old Jason Grilli did little to lock down his provisional closer spot in Atlanta on Opening Day. Brought in with a one-run lead in the 9th, Grilli coughed up a run, and was tagged with a blown save. Given the fluid situation in the Braves’ bullpen, expect Grilli to be on a short leash going forward.

Hierarchy remains: *Grilli | Vizcaino | Johnson.
* = closer-by-committee

March 18, 2016
Atlanta Braves – Jason Grilli made his spring debut yesterday, but the Braves still haven’t committed to him — or anyone else — as closer just yet. Grilli, Arodys Vizcaino, and Jim Johnson are still being considered.

Hierarchy remains: *Grilli | Vizcaino | Johnson.
* = closer-by-committee

March 2, 2016
Atlanta Braves – In all likelihood, Arodys Vizcaino will be the Atlanta closer by year’s end. The question is whether he’ll start the year with the role. As you may recall, veteran Jason Grilli was perfectly respectable — good, even — before rupturing his Achilles last summer, and has reported to camp assuming that he’ll be the closer. Pretty much every veteran on the Braves roster will be expendable come summer time, so even if Grilli wins the job, it’s probably a three-month gig, but this battle will be one to watch in Spring Training. Beyond those two, your league would have to be really, really deep for you to be looking at anyone else. If that’s the case, though, Jim Johnson is kicking around and could nab a few holds if he proves he can still pitch, and promising youngster Shae Simmons could return as early as May.

Starting 2016 hierarchy: Grilli | Vizcaino | Johnson.
Holds candidates: Vizcaino, Johnson.

August 29, 2015
Atlanta Braves — Left fielder Jonny Gomes was a more effective pitcher than Andrew McKirahan on Friday night, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the rookie sent down before Saturday’s game. There isn’t much else to choose from for the Braves right now, so by default we must turn to Peter Moylan, in honor of his Rec Specs and his relief dominance (okay, competence) back in ’07, ’09, and ’10.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Jackson | Moylan.

August 25, 2015
Atlanta Braves – Less than two weeks after signing with the Braves, former Cub Edwin Jackson snagged an 8th inning hold against the Rockies. Jackson was atrocious as a starter with the Cubs over the last few years, but seems to have settled in to his role as a reliever this season, positing a 3.13 ERA. With David Aardsma DFA’d yesterday, Jackson should get more hold chances going forward.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Jackson | McKirahan.

August 15, 2015
Atlanta Braves — Arodys Vizcaino is cementing his role as the Braves closer, and David Aardsma seems to be his chief lieutenant, although the relief roles officially remain fluid. Aardsma got the seventh and eighth in front of Vizcaino on Friday night.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Aardsma | McKirahan.

August 7, 2015
Atlanta Braves — Congratulations are in order for Arodys Vizcaino, who picked up his first career save Thursday. Armed with a 0.71 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, Vizcaino will get the bulk of the Braves’ save chances for the rest of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Vizcaino | McKirahan | Aardsma.

July 31, 2015
Atlanta Braves — In the wake of the Jim Johnson trade, Arodys Vizcaino will indeed get the majority of save opps, though a few could also go to Andrew McKirahan, according to Mark Bowman.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | McKirahan | Aardsma.

July 30, 2015
Atlanta Braves — Although it hasn’t been finalized, there are multiple independent reports that Jim Johnson has been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The void he leaves should be filled by Arodys Vizcaino. The 24-year-old has the power arm managers value in a closer, and has been named as a potential replacement for Jim Johnson ever since the Grilli injury. Behind him, veterans David Aardsma and Jason Frasor are likely to get more late-inning looks as well. We’ll keep an eye on how the first few save opportunities go for the Braves, but Vizcaino is the guy to own for now.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Frasor | Aardsma.

July 29, 2015
Atlanta BravesESPN is reporting that Jim Johnson (and Luis Avilan) will be traded to Los Angeles as part of a three-team deal. With Johnson headed west, the Braves will likely turn first to Arodys Vizcaino, with Jason Frasor and David Aardsma also in the mix.

Updated hierarchy: Vizcaino | Frasor | Aardsma.

July 22, 2015
Atlanta Braves – Former Royals reliever Jason Frasor has been terrific in 2015, and he has posted two holds in three appearances with the Braves since being released by Kansas City. Meanwhile David Aardsma doesn’t have a hold since July 7.

Updated hierarchy: Johnson | Vizcaino | Frasor.

July 13, 2015
Atlanta Braves – With Jim Johnson serving as the Braves closer, it’s looking like the recently called up Arodys Vizcaino is now the primary handcuff in Atlanta. A few years back, Vizcaino was a highly-regarded prospect with a 101-mph fastball. But he experienced several setbacks — Tommy John surgery, elbow surgery, and a PED suspension — and it’s taken him a while to get back to this level. Still, he could be a good speculative add. With the Braves slowly falling out of the playoff race, they could look to trade Johnson for prospects.

Updated hierarchy: Johnson | Vizcaino | Aardsma.

July 12, 2015
Atlanta Braves — As we feared last night, Jason Grilli suffered a left Achilles rupture on Saturday night and will miss the rest of the season. Jim Johnson will be the new closer for the Braves, with Luis Avilan, David Aardsma, and Arodys Vizcaino backing him up.

Hierarchy remains: Johnson | Avilan | Aardsma.

July 11, 2015
Atlanta Braves – Jason Grilli had to be carted off the field after injuring himself on an attempt to cover first. There’s speculation that it could be an Achilles tendon injury; either way, Jim Johnson appears to be a must-add right now.

Updated hierarchy: Johnson | Avilan | Aardsma.

July 7, 2015
Atlanta Braves — After a string of bad outings that culminated in an extra-inning disaster on Sunday against the Phillies, Nick Masset has been sent packing for Triple-A. Luis Avilan, who sports a sub-3.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 10 holds, enters the hierarchy to replace Masset.

Updated hierarchy: Grilli | Johnson | Avilan.

July 4, 2015
Atlanta Braves — Jason Grilli got the night off after working in two straight, allowing Jim Johnson to pick up a vulture save.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Johnson | Masset.

June 22, 2015
Atlanta Braves – Jason Grilli had pitched in back to back games, so the Braves tapped Jim Johnson for the save chance on Sunday. Johnson converted his fourth save of the season, allowing Closer Monkey to brag about the Vulture Save Watch, as is our wont. Behind him, Nick Masset has supplanted Brandon Cunniff for the 2nd in line spot.

Updated hierarchy: Grilli | Johnson | Masset.

June 14, 2015
Atlanta Braves — Williams Perez picked up his first career save in extra innings last night.  Jim Johnson and Jason Grilli each pitched a scoreless inning earlier in the game, and Grilli ended up with the win.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Johnson | Cunniff.

June 11, 2015
Atlanta Braves –As predicted in the Vulture Save Watch, Jim Johnson picked up the save for the Braves as Jason Grilli got a night off following two straight appearances totaling 50 pitches.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Johnson | Cunniff.

May 22, 2015
Atlanta Braves — Fredi Gonzalez’s decision to point out Will Smith’s foreign substance proved masterful, as his Braves followed up with a 7-spot in the 7th inning to win 10-1. Lost in all the drama was the performance from Brandon Cunniff, who tossed a scoreless inning in the eighth. The rookie now sports a 1.93 ERA and 0.71 WHIP, and opposing hitters are hitting just .048 this season against him, the lowest mark in the majors. He has allowed eight walks, so we’ll be watching his control, but he’s pitched well enough to earn a promotion to the Braves hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Grilli | Johnson | Cunniff.

May 13, 2015
Atlanta Braves – Jason Grilli took the loss in his first outing in six days, though he said after the game that his back is fine and that he was just a little rusty. With Jim Johnson continuing to pitch well, the Braves may be more willing to give Grilli an extra day of rest here and there, especially if his back isn’t truly fine.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Johnson | Avilan.

May 12, 2015
Atlanta Braves – With Jason Grilli still sidelined, Jim Johnson picked up a save on Monday night. Grilli is expected back in short order.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Johnson | Avilan.

May 10, 2015
Atlanta Braves – Closer Jason Grilli was unavailable yesterday.  Grilli last pitched on Wednesday when he picked up his 9th save of the season.  If Grilli misses any additional time, Jim Johnson should fill in as closer.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Johnson | Avilan.

April 12, 2015
Atlanta Braves – Jim Johnson recorded his first save of the season last night, as regular closer Jason Grilli was given the night off.  Johnson has gotten off to a great start, and should continue to see save chances whenever Grilli is unavailable.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Johnson | Avilan.

April 7, 2015
Atlanta Braves – Prior to Jason Grilli picking up his first save of the year, Freddie Gonzalez confirmed that Grilli will be his closer and Jim Johnson his set-up man to start the season. This comes after the Braves shipped off über-closer Craig Kimbrel to the Padres ahead of opening day.

Hierarchy remains: Grilli | Johnson | Avilan.

April 5, 2015
Atlanta Braves — With the Opening Day salary dump of All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, the Braves will turn to one of their closer retread insurance policies: Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson. Grilli has the edge, if you want any piece of this action. With Josh Outman starting the year on the DL, Luis Avilan will complete the relief dream team. Long-term, Shae Simmons could be the answer if he can return from Tommy John surgery. Braves GM John Hart also mentioned Juan Jaime as an option down the line.

Updated hierarchy: Grilli | Johnson | Avilan.

March 9, 2015
Atlanta Braves – In 2012, Craig Kimbrel reached a milestone that no pitcher had ever reached before, striking out more than 50 percent (116 out of 231) of the batters that he faced. Kid K hasn’t managed that feat in the two years since; he’s merely settled for being arguably the best closer in baseball. Behind him, though, are a lot of question marks, as Kimbrel will be flanked by as many as three aging former stoppers — Jason Grilli, Jim Johnson, and Jose Veras all joined the roster in the offseason. (Incidentally, so did Matt Capps, but he already got cut.) Grilli and Johnson seem likely to make the team — Johnson has impressed in camp — as do Michael Kohn and James Russell, younger arms who have been steady in their relatively short careers. Luis Avilan also returns, and will definitely be a factor if he’s closer to his 2013 self; less so if the 2014 version shows up.

Starting 2015 hierarchy: Kimbrel | Grilli | Johnson.
Holds candidates: Grilli | Johnson.

September 4, 2014
Atlanta Braves — Craig Kimbrel picked up his 42nd save of the year in bright gold cleats that will be auctioned off to benefit a childhood cancer charity.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Walden | Carpenter.

August 14, 2014
Atlanta Braves — David Carpenter picked up his second high-leverage hold in four days; although Shae Simmons is nearing a return from the disabled list, memories of Carpenter’s astounding 2013 performance (and the fact that his K/9 and FIP have actually improved this year) should keep him in the top three regardless.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Walden | Carpenter.

August 1, 2014
Atlanta Braves — The Braves added a lefty to their bullpen on Thursday when they brought over James Russell from the Cubs. Russell will add a veteran presence to the bullpen and will be more than a lefty specialist, according to manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Walden | Varvaro.

July 30, 2014
Atlanta Braves — Shae Simmons’s recent struggles have been explained by a shoulder strain that has landed him on the disabled list. Anthony Varvaro should take Simmons’s place even after a rough outing on Tuesday, completing his heartwarming comeback from a broken leg in the 2006 Preakness. Recently recalled Juan Jaime has great stuff, but also walked almost a man an inning at AAA.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Walden | Varvaro.

July 16, 2014
Atlanta Braves – Tied with Washington for first place in the NL East, the Braves have the elitest of elite closers, but might be in the market for a lefthanded reliever like Boston’s Andrew Miller to reinforce Luis Avilan. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: None. 

July 13, 2014
Atlanta Braves — David Carpenter recorded the save last night.  He entered the game in the 8th inning with a three run lead and then came back for the 9th after the Braves added two more runs to make it a five run game.  It was only Carpenter’s second appearance since coming off the DL, but it was much better than the first.  Shae Simmons still has an ERA under 1.00 so we will leave him at second in line for now but Carpenter could move back into that role shortly.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Walden | Simmons.

July 9, 2014
Atlanta Braves — In the week since David Carpenter was activated from the disabled list, he made precisely zero appearances, while Luis Avilan and Jordan Walden took care of the eighth inning in front of Craig Kimbrel. When Carpenter finally pitched again on Tuesday night, it was with the Braves trailing 6-0, and he gave up five hits and two runs over two line drive-heavy innings. Although the appearance raised Carpenter’s 2014 WHIP to 1.79 — percentage points higher than the 1.78 ERA he boasted in last year’s breakout season — part of the reason is a whopping .462 BABIP this year. Whether Carpenter is hurting or just unlucky, Atlanta seems likely to let him figure things out in lower-leverage spots for the time being. Shea Simmons would likely be next in line for saves behind Kimbrel and Walden.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Walden | Simmons.

July 3, 2014
Atlanta Braves — As predicted in Wednesday’s Vulture Save Watch, Jordan Walden picked up his third save of the year, allowing Craig Kimbrel a night off.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Walden | Carpenter.

July 2, 2014
Atlanta Braves — After two successful rehab outings for AAA Gwinnett, an optimistic David Carpenter will be activated from the disabled list on Wednesday. His return should displace Shae Simmons and Luis Avilan.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Walden | Carpenter.

June 21, 2014
Atlanta Braves – After a rare Craig Kimbrel blown save sent the game to extras, Jordan Walden picked up his second save of the year in the 13th inning. Now that he’s back and healthy, Walden appears to be the Kimbrel handcuff.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Walden | Simmons.

June 18, 2014
Atlanta Braves — After a period of very heavy use (59 pitches in three days), David Carpenter was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained right biceps. Jordan Walden will take on a bigger role in Carpenter’s absence.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Simmons | Walden.

June 11, 2014
Atlanta Braves — Jordan Walden returned from the DL today after a month away, and we were all set to move him right into the Braves’ hierarchy — that is, until he entered Tuesday’s game with a four-run lead in the eighth and immediately issued three straight walks. Thanks to Shae Simmons, the Braves yielded only one run. Walden hasn’t historically struggled with control, but we’ll still wait to see what his next game holds before making the move.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Simmons | Carpenter.

June 10, 2014
Atlanta Braves – It’s been quite an ascension for young Shae Simmons, who in two weeks has gone from AA to the 8th inning in Atlanta.  Simmons now has six big league appearances, a 0.00 ERA, four 8th-inning holds (including his most recent effort last night, a spotless inning in a 3-1 game), and a save on a night when Craig Kimbrel was unavailable.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Simmons | Carpenter.

June 8, 2014
Atlanta Braves – Shae Simmons pitched the 8th inning ahead of closer Craig Kimbrel last night with the Braves holding a one run lead.  Simmons now has a save and three holds in five appearances since getting called up.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Carpenter | Simmons.

June 2, 2014
Atlanta Braves – With both Craig Kimbrel and David Carpenter unavailable, the Braves went to rookie Shae Simmons in the 9th inning. Simmons, who was just called up two days ago (much to his own surprise), allowed three base runners but nailed down his first career save.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Carpenter | Varvaro.

May 12, 2014
Atlanta Braves – David Carpenter pitched a clean 9th inning for the Braves on Sunday, earning his second save of the season. As mentioned in the Vulture Save Watch, Craig Kimbrel had thrown 43 pitches over the previous two days and got the night off. No hierarchy change.

May 11, 2014
Atlanta Braves – The Braves have placed Jordan Walden on the DL with a strained hamstring.  David Carpenter should take over Walden’s set-up role, while Anthony Varvaro could see more time in the later innings.   Hierarchy change: David Carpenter to Set-up, Anthony Varvaro to 2nd in line, Jordan Walden to DL.

April 22, 2014
Atlanta Braves – Craig Kimbrel blew the save last night, though to his credit did bounce back with three straight strikeouts after allowing the game-tying double. He’s not on the hot seat yet, but this combined with his earlier arm troubles is a little worrying. Jordan Walden, meanwhile, has not allowed an earned run since April 9.  No hierarchy change.

April 20, 2014
Atlanta Braves – Jordan Walden picked up a one-out, bases-loaded save on Saturday night, bailing out an ineffective Craig Kimbrel.  Despite being the go-to guy in the 8th inning all season, David Carpenter has struggled mightily, and his ERA shot up to 6.43 after he was knocked around last night.  After Walden’s clutch performance last night, we think he’d probably be the best bet for saves if Kimbrel’s early season struggles continue.  Hierarchy change: Jordan Walden to Set-up, David Carpenter to 2nd in line.

April 15, 2014
Atlanta Braves – David Carpenter got the save in a wild 9-6 win at Philadelphia – unexpected to everyone except Fredi Gonzalez, who held closer Craig Kimbrel out due to right shoulder soreness that crept up over the weekend. Kimbrel plans to rest for a few days, which means Carpenter is the best bet for saves in the interim. Jordan Walden, who has prior experience as a closer, will also be in the mix. No hierarchy change.

April 3, 2014
Atlanta Braves – Jordan Walden might have the closing experience, but through two games of the 2014 season, David Carpenter is the one racking up the 8th inning holds — Carpenter has pitched the 8th in each of the Braves’ first two wins ahead of Craig Kimbrel.  Hierarchy change: David Carpenter to Set-up, Jordan Walden to 2nd in line. 

March 13, 2014
Atlanta Braves — Craig Kimbrel has been utterly unhittable since his rookie season in 2011, and he’s earned the #1 spot in our preseason closer rankings.

March 11, 2014
Atlanta Braves – Craig Kimbrel has been a dominant force for the Braves over the last three years, and Atlanta still has plenty of quality arms surrounding him. Jordan Walden, a competent closer in his own right for the Angels in 2011, should be Kimbrel’s right-hand man, with David Carpenter and lefty Luis Avilan providing valuable late-inning help. Jonny Venters isn’t expected to return from his Tommy John rehab until May or June. Starting 2014 hierarchy: Closer — Craig Kimbrel; Set-up — Jordan Walden; 2nd in line — David Carpenter.

September 18, 2013
Atlanta Braves — A blown save on Tuesday and three earned runs in his last two appearances should eliminate Craig Kimbrel from any misguided Cy Young consideration. No hierarchy change.

September 15, 2013
Atlanta Braves — One night after Jordan Walden blew an 8th inning lead, the Braves went to David Carpenter ahead of Craig Kimbrel.  Jordan Walden has been battling injuries while David Carpenter lowered his ERA to 1.95 with last night’s outing.  Hierarchy change: David Carpenter to Set-up, Jordan Walden to 2nd in line.

September 4, 2013
Atlanta Braves — Jordan Walden hasn’t pitched in two weeks, and after a five-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, word is he’ll be out at least another week. Luis Ayala and Scott Downs are each getting a lot of late-inning work, but we think Ayala, as a righty, will be slightly more likely to grab any super-vulture saves down the stretch. Hierarchy change: Luis Ayala to 2nd in line, Jordan Walden to Set-up (INJ).

August 31, 2013
Atlanta Braves — Anthony Varvaro pitched the last two innings last night to record the save.  With Jordan Walden still nursing a leg injury and Avilan and Carpenter being used a lot recently, the Braves went with the more rested option.  Varvaro had not pitched in 5 days so he got the call last night but he still does not factor into the normal late inning plans for the Braves.  No hierarchy change.

August 28, 2013
Atlanta Braves — Jordan Walden hasn’t pitched in a week, and Luis Avilan and Scott Downs have been working late in games for Atlanta. We don’t think Walden is out of the picture yet, but the Braves are being careful with him for some reason — possibly connected to the line drive he took off his pitching hand on August 10th. Hierarchy change: Luis Avilan to Set-up, Jordan Walden to 2nd in line.

August 14, 2013
Atlanta Braves — David Carpenter, claimed off waivers last November, has claimed the last two eighth-inning holds and is striking out more than 10 per 9 innings. Hierarchy change: David Carpenter to 2nd in line, replacing Luis Avilan.

August 6, 2013
Atlanta Braves — Jordan Walden did indeed grab a vulture save Monday with Craig Kimbrel unavailable. No hierarchy change.

July 30, 2013
Atlanta Braves — As we expected, Jordan Walden got a vulture save opportunity on Monday, but blew it, giving Scott Downs a vulture win in his first appearance as a Brave. Although Downs was serving in a set-up role for the Angels, we don’t see him challenging the existing hierarchy in Atlanta, at least at this point. No hierarchy change.

July 18, 2013
Atlanta Braves – The Braves are all set at closer, although they might well add a setup arm like Oliver Perez or Jesse Crain. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: None. 

July 6, 2013
Atlanta Braves – The Braves have optioned Cory Gearrin to Triple-A.  Luis Avilan, and his 1.51 ERA, should take over for Gearrin in the late innings.  Hierarchy change: Luis Avilan to 2nd in line, replacing Cory Gearrin.

June 2, 2013
Atlanta Braves – Jordan Walden now has three perfect innings since returning from the disabled list, including a clean 10th last night which earned him the win when the Braves walked off.  He might not become the team’s 8th inning guy for a while — Cory Gearrin and Luis Avilan have pitched well in that role — but now that he’s shown that he’s healthy, his previous closing experience gives him the edge for saves should anything happen to Craig Kimbrel.  Hierarchy change: Jordan Walden to Set-up, Cory Gearrin to 2nd in line. 

May 30, 2013
Atlanta Braves – Jordan Walden returned from the DL to pitch a scoreless inning on Wednesday.  Though Cory Gearrin and Luis Avilan have pitched well in their roles as the 8th inning triage team, Walden’s experience would have to throw him into immediate consideration for saves should anything happen to Craig Kimbrel.  Hierarchy change: Jordan Walden to 2nd in line, replacing Luis Avilan.

May 21, 2013
Atlanta Braves — As predicted in Monday morning’s Vulture Save Watch, Cory Gearrin grabbed a weird one-out save on Monday after entering with two on and a four-run lead. No hierarchy change.

May 19, 2013
Atlanta Braves – Another day, another injury for the Braves bullpen.  This time it was Eric O’Flaherty landing on the DL and he will visit Dr. James Andrews later this week so it doesn’t sound good.  Cory Gearrin pitched the 8th yesterday and Freddi Gonzalez said after the game that he will use Gearrin and lefty Luis Avilan based on matchups.  Hierarchy change: Cory Gearrin to Set-up, Eric O’Flaherty to DL.

May 18, 2013
Atlanta Braves – Jordan Walden was placed on the DL Friday due to right shoulder inflammation.  Luis Avilan pitched the 7th inning ahead of O’Flaherty and Kimbrel and picked up his 5th hold of the season.  Hierarchy change: Luis Avilan to 2nd in line, Jordan Walden to DL.

April 19, 2013
Atlanta Braves – Jordan Walden’s usage has been sporadic thus far this season, which perhaps stems from the coaching staff’s reluctance to overwork him after he missed time during the spring.  With his electric stuff, we expect him to take over the 8th inning role at some point, but so far this season, Eric O’Flaherty has been the man bridging the gap to Craig Kimbrel.  O’Flaherty pitched again last night, and despite underwhelming peripherals (4/3 K/BB ratio), he picked up his 5th hold of the season.  Hierarchy change: Eric O’Flaherty to Set-up, Jordan Walden to 2nd in line.

April 2, 2013
Atlanta Braves – Jonny Venters was placed on the disabled list to start the season, and reports emerged over the weekend that he was heading to visit Dr. James Andrews, which is never a good sign.  Eric O’Flaherty pitched the 7th inning in the Braves’ opening day win.  Hierarchy change: Eric O’Flaherty to 2nd in line, replacing Jonny Venters.

February 24, 2013
Atlanta Braves – Starting 2013 hierarchy: Closer- Craig Kimbrel, Set-up- Jordan Walden, 2nd in line- Jonny Venters.

September 30, 2012
Atlanta Braves – Jonny Venters is finishing his up-and-down season on the up side. After picking up the hold in the 8th inning yesterday, he’s got six straight scoreless appearances, and has lowered his ERA from a high of 4.40 in July to 3.28. Hierarchy change: Jonny Venters to 2nd in line, replacing Chad Durbin.

September 10, 2012
Atlanta Braves – Peter Moylan picked up his first save of the season in a 10-inning game on Sunday. Craig Kimbrel and Eric O’Flaherty had already been used earlier on. No hierarchy change.

July 30, 2012
Atlanta Braves – With Jonny Venters’ inconsistency and the team’s desire to stretch Kris Medlen out, the Braves have been searching for a steady 7th inning man all season. They may have found one in Chad Durbin, who after a rough start has allowed only 4 ERs in his last 28 innings, a span of 35 appearances. On Sunday, he bailed Venters out in the 6th inning and then stayed on for the 7th, recording his 10th hold of the year. Hierarchy change: Chad Durbin to 2nd in line, replacing Jonny Venters.

July 26, 2012
Atlanta Braves – Jonny Venters pitched a scoreless 9th inning for the Braves last night. Kris Medlen was also stellar, throwing 3 clean innings with five strikeouts, but the Braves are looking to stretch him out so he can be a starter down the line. Hierarchy change: Jonny Venters to 2nd in line, replacing Kris Medlen.

July 21, 2012
Atlanta Braves – Chad Durbin picked up an 11th inning save on Friday after the Braves had exhausted much of the rest of their bullpen. Durbin does not figure in to their usual late inning plans. No hierarchy change.

July 14, 2012
Atlanta Braves – Kris Medlen pitched two solid innings in relief yesterday, striking out 3 without allowing a hit. Even once Jonny Venters returns from injury, Medlen may remain ahead of him on the depth chart. Kris Medlen to 2nd in line, replacing Jonny Venters.

July 12, 2012
Atlanta Braves – Atlanta is still in the playoff hunt and could look to add an arm down the stretch. This is unlikely to mean much to their bullpen hierarchy, however, as no one they could possibly acquire could threaten Craig Kimbrel. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: None.

June 7, 2012
Atlanta Braves – Eric O’Flaherty pitched the 8th inning ahead of Craig Kimbrel on Wednesday, the fourth such time he has been used in that role in the past nine days. Jonny Venters struggled in May, posting a 6.55 ERA for the month. O’Flaherty’s WHIP (1.50) is still ugly, but he has not given up an earned run since May 7, a span of 11 consecutive appearance. Hierarchy change: Eric O’Flaherty to Set-up, Jonny Venters to 2nd in line.

May 7, 2012
Atlanta Braves – For the second day in a row, the Braves had a comfortable late-inning lead, and a long reliever notched a save; this time, it was Cristhian Martinez, who pitched 2.2 clean innings in the blowout. No hierarchy change.

May 6, 2012
Atlanta Braves – Livan Hernandez came in when the Braves were up by 3 runs in the 8th inning, then stayed after they scored again in the 9th for the 2-inning save. No hierarchy change.

April 28, 2012
Atlanta Braves- Kris Medlen got a three inning save last night in a 5 run win. No hierarchy change.

March 18, 2012
Atlanta Braves- The Braves had, unquestionably, the best trio of relievers in the game last year, and their 2012 roles are clearly defined after their season of dominance. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Craig Kimbrel, Set-up- Jonny Venters, 2nd in line- Eric O’Flaherty.

Aug. 23, 2011
Atlanta Braves- Jonny Venters got the save last night, but it was only because Craig Kimbrel had worked the previous night, and in three of the previous four games. No hierarchy change.

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