The Braves’ bullpen gets key member back in Collin McHugh

Collin McHugh relieves during the sixth inning of game one of the baseball playoff series between the Braves and the Phillies at Truist Park in Atlanta on Tuesday, October 11, 2022. (Jason Getz /



Collin McHugh relieves during the sixth inning of game one of the baseball playoff series between the Braves and the Phillies at Truist Park in Atlanta on Tuesday, October 11, 2022. (Jason Getz /

Over the first part of the season, the Braves’ bullpen shouldered a heavy load. The Braves are middle of the pack in innings pitched by relievers – which means they haven’t had to overuse their bullpen like some teams – but the burden has at times felt more severe.

For one, the Braves weren’t able to set their rotation until activating Max Fried, as Fried sustained an injury on opening day, and Kyle Wright began the season on the injured list. Plus, the bullpen had to roll forward without Raisel Iglesias and then Collin McHugh, which made the situation feel more dire as everyone else stepped up to make up for the losses.

Well, now McHugh is back.

It should be a big boost for the Braves’ bullpen pitchers, who have had to be flexible the past 2-1/2 weeks.

The Braves returned McHugh from his rehab assignment, as expected. To make room for him on the roster, they optioned left-hander Danny Young.

“I’m super excited,” McHugh said Tuesday. “Being on the shelf for any amount of time is not what any pro ballplayer wants to be doing. But it’s a necessity when you got to do it. You put in the work every day, you kind of come to the park and get your job done and do what you have to do to get back out here.”

Before hitting the injured list with right shoulder inflammation, McHugh had allowed a run over 3-2/3 innings. During an appearance in St. Louis, he noticed his stuff wasn’t playing as well. He felt extra soreness after the outing, which necessitated the injured-list placement.

With him out, others moved up a seat. Dylan Lee and Jesse Chavez have both thrown 11 times this season, two off the MLB lead. The two have pitched in more high-leverage spots, as has Nick Anderson.

The Braves are lucky in that they have multiple late-inning options, so these guys might’ve been pitching in some of these spots even if McHugh was healthy. But they definitely did it more frequently with him on the injured list.

“(President of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos) and the front office kind of put together the guys that they thought would be able to get the job done under a lot of circumstances,” McHugh said. “You don’t want to have to do it under certain circumstances when guys are out. This might not have been expected from the outside, but it was definitely expected from the inside that they would continue to put up the numbers and outings and they were capable of.”

During his injured list stint, McHugh said he spent time with his children. But he’s a firm believer that being around the team as much as possible is important, which is why he went to Kansas City with the Braves before returning home for his rehab assignment with High-A Rome.

Last season, McHugh posted a 2.60 ERA over 69-1/3 innings. He features a ton of versatility. He can pitch multiple innings, but also has the stuff to appear in high-leverage spots. It’s a nice blend for the Braves, who have him signed through this season, with a club option for 2024.

Iglesias, the Braves’ closer, faced live hitters Monday. He’s expected to begin a rehab assignment in the near future, possibly as soon as Thursday. (Braves manager Brian Snitker on Tuesday said Iglesias is scheduled to pitch again Thursday, either in a live batting practice session or a rehab game.)

The Braves’ bullpen ranks 13th in baseball with a 3.56 ERA, though that number is inflated by a couple of poor showings against the Astros in the team’s most-recent series.

Before facing Houston, the Braves’ bullpen had the third-best ERA in baseball, at 2.71.

The group has held its ground impressively without McHugh and Iglesias.

One has returned. The other could follow shortly.

“He can do so many things down there for us,” Snitker said. “He can go multiple (innings), he can finish an inning off and then keep going, he can pitch the high-leverage innings. He does a lot for us, as he did last year. He was a very valuable piece in what we were doing.”

Harris’ rehab assignment

Michael Harris II (lower back strain) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday.

There’s no timetable for his return to the Braves, but this is a nice step forward.

White to paternity list

The Braves also put Eli White on the paternity list.

They recalled outfielder Nick Solak to take his place for the time being. A week ago, the Braves claimed Solak off waivers from the White Sox and optioned him to Triple A Gwinnett.

October 2, 2022 Atlanta - Atlanta Braves' relief pitcher Collin McHugh (32) reacts after striking out New York Mets' shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) to end the 6th inning at Truist Park on Sunday, October 2, 2022. (Hyosub Shin /


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