The Braves won five out of six games last week to keep the heat on the first-place Phillies in the National League East, thanks in large part to Atlanta's stellar bullpen performance. Braves relievers combined to post a 0.84 ERA over 21 1/3 innings, earning MLB Bullpen of the Week
The Braves won five out of six games last week to keep the heat on the first-place Phillies in the National League East, thanks in large part to Atlanta's stellar bullpen performance. Braves relievers combined to post a 0.84 ERA over 21 1/3 innings, earning MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford honors for July 30-Aug. 5.
As part of The Hartford Prevailing Moments program, each Monday throughout the 2018 season, MLB.com is honoring the MLB Bullpen of the Week presented by The Hartford. An industry-wide panel of MLB experts, including legendary stats guru Bill James, constructed a metric based on James' widely renowned game-score formula, to provide a weekly measurement of team-bullpen performance.
Here's how the Bullpen Rating System is compiled for each week. For reference, a weekly score of 100 is considered outstanding:
• Add 1.5 points for each out recorded
• Add 1.5 points for each strikeout
• Add 5 points for a save
• Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
• Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
• Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed
• Subtract 1 point for each walk
• Subtract 5 points for a blown save
The Braves' bullpen finished the week with a score of 108, edging out the Giants (103.5) and the Rays (102). Atlanta relievers struck out 24 and walked only three during the week, surrendering just one homer.
Rookie left-hander Jesse Biddle led the way with four scoreless innings, giving up a hit and striking out two. Biddle closed out Atlanta's 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Mets on Sunday to cap off a 5-1 week. Newly acquired relievers Jonny Venters and Brad Brach also made strong first impressions since being traded to Atlanta, combining for three scoreless frames.
The unexpected: Braves manager Brian Snitker called on his bullpen in the sixth inning as Atlanta trailed the Mets, 3-1, on Sunday. With two outs and runners at first and second, Venters came on in relief of starter Julio Teheran. Venters got Jose Reyes to ground out to end the threat.
After Atlanta scored twice to tie the game in the top of the seventh, Brach worked around a walk to put up a scoreless frame in the bottom half, and Dan Winkler worked around a single for a scoreless eighth.
The Braves took the lead in the ninth, and A.J. Minter came on to close things out. But after retiring Reyes on a groundout to open the frame, Minter surrendered a game-tying homer to Devin Mesoraco, followed by a Brandon Nimmo single.
How they prevailed: With the winning run on base, Minter got Amed Rosario to line out to center field, and followed that with a strikeout of Kevin Plawecki to send the game into extra innings.
That gave the Braves a chance to regain the lead in the top of the 10th on a Nick Markakis solo homer. Biddle took the mound for the bottom of the 10th, and despite yielding a leadoff double to Wilmer Flores, he induced three straight groundouts to seal the victory.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.