The Braves gave themselves plenty of bullpen options in adding three veteran relievers before last week's trade deadline, and they're already shuffling the deck.
After slotting Shane Greene in as the closer upon arrival in Atlanta following his All-Star showing with the Tigers, manager Brian Snitker said Friday night that Mark Melancon is now the first choice for ninth-inning duties.
Greene posted a 1.18 ERA in Detroit before the trade but has now allowed as many earned runs for Atlanta in four appearances (five) as he did in 38 with the Tigers. He got the final out of the eighth inning Friday against the Marlins, his first Braves appearance in which he was not charged with a run — though he did allow an inherited runner to score — before turning things over to Melancon for the ninth.
While Melancon did not get a save Friday because Ronald Acuna's latest two-run homer in the top of the ninth made it an 8-4 game, the veteran knows his way around late-game pressure situations.
The 34-year-old was a three-time All-Star as the Pirates' closer from 2013-16, leading the majors with 51 saves in 2015. While he had moved back to a setup role with the Giants the last couple of seasons, Snitker doesn't believe Melancon will have any trouble reacclimating himself to the role.
"You know what, he had 51 saves a few years ago," Snitker said, via The Athletic. "I mean, he’s been through these wars and nothing’s going to faze him. He’s been a reliable pitcher for a long, long time."
The Braves know they'll need a more reliable bullpen to hold off the rest of the NL East and make a deep postseason run. Friday's win extended their lead over the Nationals to 6 1/2 games, while the Mets and Phillies are eight games back.