A.J. Minter nearing return to Braves bullpen

The Braves are close to getting key left-hander A.J. Minter back in their bullpen. Minter, sidelined since July 15 with left-shoulder inflammation, made his latest rehab appearance Friday with Triple-A Gwinnett and appears only days away from rejoining the big-league team.

“The reports were good, and he’s healthy,” manager Brian Snitker said. “We’ll give him a couple days off and see how he feels.” The Braves are expected to activate Minter in the coming week.

Minter, 29, has a 4.91 ERA in 44 appearances this season, striking out 50 in 40-1/3 innings. However, Minter hadn’t allowed a run over his last five outings before his injury. He had a 1.56 ERA across his 20 latest appearances, posting a 21:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio while holding opponents to a .109 average.

Minter pitched two rehab outings, logging a pair of scoreless frames. He threw 16 pitches in a clean inning Friday.


-Snitker complimented Pierce Johnson, the new Braves reliever who’s made two appearances, including a scoreless appearance Friday against the Brewers.

“I like him,” Snitker said. “I think he’s going to really help us.” The Braves have hoped Johnson would recapture his old form when he had a 3.09 ERA and 104 strikeouts to 36 walks in 87 games for the Padres from 2020-21.

-Braves ace Max Fried was expected to throw around 75-to-80 pitches in his rehab start for Gwinnett on Saturday night. It was Fried’s fourth, and potentially final, rehab outing before he rejoins the Braves’ rotation. Fried has a 2.08 ERA in five starts this season.

-The Mets, who entered the season with the highest payroll in history, have surrendered. They already dealt closer David Robertson to the Marlins, and they’ve reportedly traded starter Max Scherzer to Texas (pending the player’s approval). With Scherzer going, it seems likely fellow veteran Justin Verlander also will be sent elsewhere.

New York will expect to contend again in 2024, so it surely will have a busy offseason; one that will require it to possibly replace two veterans atop its rotation while addressing other needs. The Mets entered Saturday at 49-54, the fifth-worst record in the National League.

-As the Mets deconstruct their roster, the Braves will continue to try to supplement theirs. Speaking Friday evening, first baseman Matt Olson expressed confidence in president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos, who’s made several of the more memorable trades in franchise history during his tenure.

“We have full confidence in him,” Olson said. “Ever since the second I’ve been over here, you can tell he cares a lot. He cares a lot about putting a good team together. He cares a lot about putting good guys in the clubhouse together, which might be more important. It feels like he knows when to make the right moves at the right times. It’s a good feeling.”

FanGraphs gives the Braves a 100% chance at making the postseason and a 99% chance at securing a bye (which is rewarded to the two best records in each league). The site also gives the Braves a 25.1% chance at winning the World Series; the second-highest odds belong to the Dodgers at 13.5%.

Of course, one can’t get too caught up in percentages. On this date in 2021, FanGraphs gave the Braves a 0.4% chance of winning the World Series. The Braves, who were 51-53 at the time, had only a 6.5% chance of winning the National League East. It turned out to be a season for the ages.