Another amazing season from Everyday Jonny, though he, like Kimbrel, ran out of gas at the end of the season, posting a 5.11 ERA and a .424 OBP in September. I’m a bit concerned about Venters, as it was his second major league season and he’s older, and he’s worn down as the season has gone on both years. Okay, he led the league in appearances, with 85, but 85 appearances and 88 innings is not that many. At any rate, you’d prefer that he get more rest but if you keep playing close games you’re going to need your best reliever. For the first four months of the season, he’s the best reliever in baseball.
Venters throws a devastating sinking fastball that some say is the best pitch in baseball, mixing in a slider. Thanks to the sinker, he had a 70 percent ground ball rate, which is the sort of thing that helps a lot. He normally also has good control — until he gets tired after several days of use or at the end of the year, when he starts pitching behind and walking people. I mentioned the September OBP above; the elevated walk rate in the second half really stands out, but it was almost all from that month.
Some people want Venters to displace Kimbrel as the closer because, well, as good as Kimbrel was last year Venters is better. But this arrangement, using the best reliever as an eighth-inning man (whom you can bring in at other times if necessary) is probably closer to optimal than using your best man as the closer. It’s a nice problem to have… Second in the league in holds. Unsurprisingly, the Braves led the league in that pseudo-category, as O’Flaherty was fourth.