The Braves bullpen might have familiar help on the way in the final month.
Arodys Vizcaino is scheduled to begin throwing Wednesday, as long as he’s medically cleared, manager Brian Snitker said Monday.
Vizcaino hasn’t pitched since July 11, sidelined by shoulder inflammation that resulted in two disabled list stints. The team’s taken a conservative approach after he returned from the DL only to feel shoulder discomfort after three outings.
The Braves had hoped for a September return for their closer, though there was a chance he wouldn’t return this season. The team will have a clearer timetable once Vizcaino resumes throwing.
A healthy Vizcaino would be a boon for an already improved bullpen: He earned a 1.65 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 32-2/3 innings. He had a career-best 15 saves, though Snitker began splitting closer duties between Vizcaino and A.J. Minter.
Minter has since assumed the role and thrived. He’s allowed a run in just three of his last 24 appearances, and his 10 saves are the most recorded by a rookie left-hander since Houston’s Al Osuna saved 12 in 1991.
Minter has a stronghold on the job, but Vizcaino could be re-integrated slowly in the later innings. In theory, adding Vizcaino and Brad Brach to pave the way to Minter would make the bullpen much more formidable in the stretch run.
Vizcaino would round out the re-shaped bullpen. Jesse Biddle has persisted as a reliable, high-leverage arm. Luke Jackson has outperformed expectations and suddenly become somewhat a strikeout artist, setting down 37 in 26-1/3 innings. Jonny Venters was added as a lefty specialist, and Dan Winkler has continued his steady work.
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