Greene brings fighting mentality to Braves

Melancon on trade: 'I love the energy this club brings'

August 1st, 2019

ATLANTA -- If you’re wondering about the ferocity of the Braves’ new closer, you simply need to know likens himself to a boxer.

“I’ll be throwing my haymakers, they’ll be throwing theirs and one of us is going to get knocked out,” Greene said. “Hopefully, I’m the last one standing.”

Along with possessing the fierceness you’d expect from a successful closer, Greene possesses a good sense of humor, which he displayed when asked what it was like to spend the past few weeks linked to trade rumors.

"The best way to describe it is, your girlfriend texts you and says we need to talk,” Greene said. “Then you call her, and she doesn’t answer. You sit by your phone and wait to see what happens."

What happened before the Trade Deadline significantly strengthened the Braves’ bid to do more than simply defend their National League East title this year. They overhauled their sinking bullpen with the Deadline acquisitions of Greene, and , a trio of veteran relievers who will now handle Atlanta’s late-inning, high-leverage situations.

“They’re all having really good years, and they’ve all closed games,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s really good. I think when you can have the experience of guys who have closed games in the Major Leagues, it’s a pretty strong thing to do.”

When each of these three relievers arrived at SunTrust Park before Thursday night’s series opener against the Reds, they introduced themselves to their new teammates and prepared to help the Braves strengthen their division lead.

While Greene will serve as the closer, Martin, who was acquired Tuesday night from the Rangers, will serve as the primary setup man. Melancon is not at the level he was when he notched 51 saves in 2015 and 47 in ‘16. But he’s still quite capable of providing reliability as both a middle reliever and setup option.

Melancon agreed to waive his no-trade clause when the Giants approached him about the potential deal approximately two hours before the Deadline.

“If you’d have asked me the day before which teams I would have said yes to, this would have been at the top of the list,” Melancon said. “I’m not just saying that. I love the energy this club brings.”

There’s plenty to like about this year’s Braves, who possess one of the game’s most productive and exciting offenses. But there has been growing concern about the relief corps, which entered Thursday with MLB’s second-worst bullpen ERA (7.11) since the All-Star break.

Greene surrendered a total of five earned runs over the 38 innings he completed while converting 22 of 25 save opportunities for the Tigers this year. He’ll take over the closer’s role from Luke Jackson, whose role was in jeopardy long before he allowed five earned runs over the final two games of this week’s series against the Nationals.

The Braves’ three new veteran relievers combined to issue 32 walks over 122 1/3 innings before being traded. They are a welcome addition to a team that has seen issue 23 walks in 27 1/3 innings. has walked 14 over 26 innings.

Sobotka, Minter and promising newcomer Jeremy Walker were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett to create roster spots for Greene, Melancon and Martin. was designated for assignment to create a necessary spot on the 40-man roster.

Jackson and will now be used earlier than they were while spending the past two months as Atlanta’s top two relief options. Swarzak allowed one earned run through his first 21 appearances. But he has surrendered six earned runs over the three appearances that have followed.

“This slots some of the guys we’ve been leaning on to pitch earlier in the game,” Snitker said. “It just makes our bullpen deeper.”