Braves’ bullpen is out of the news — and that’s a good thing

Media coverage of the Braves has looked a tad different than it did in May and early June — not much talk about the bullpen. And it’s usually a good thing for a team when its relievers don’t hog the headlines.

On June 11, the bullpen had a majors-worst 4.90 ERA and had picked up five losses in its previous nine games. But entering Tuesday’s game against the Nationals, it boasted a 2.98 ERA since June 11 and had dropped its overall ERA to 4.33.

“This is a really long season; it’s a roller coaster,” Luis Avilan said before the game. “Sometimes you’re going to be up; sometimes you’re going to be down. … Yeah, we went through a bad moment in the bullpen, but what team doesn’t?”

Since June 11, Avilan has eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings pitched and has held opponents scoreless in seven of eight appearances.

He credited a lot of recent success to veterans David Aardsma and Dana Eveland, who not-so-coincidentally joined the bullpen June 9 and June 11, respectively.

“They know how to pitch,” Avilan said. “They’ve been around the league a few years. They know what to do.”

Aardsma has a 1.29 ERA in seven games and Eveland had a 3.68 ERA before giving up a run and two walks in one-third of an inning last week in Washington.

Both Eveland and Avilan said Braves relievers — other than Jason Grilli and Jim Johnson — don’t have defined roles right now. Manager Fredi Gonzalez plugs them in different innings and different scenarios, and Eveland said that’s perfectly fine with them.

“We know everybody’s ready to go,” he said. “We pay attention to the starter, when it looks like it’s close (to him leaving the game). … We all just get ready, and whoever it is called on that day, we’re going to go out and do what we’ve got to do. We’re all prepared. We’re all ready to go.”

Avilan said everyone tries to be ready to enter the game from the fourth inning on.

“I really don’t care (when I come in),” he said. “I don’t feel like I have any role in the bullpen. Just warm up and take those guys out. That’s it. That’s my role.”

Some other bullpen numbers since June 11: Jason Grilli is five-for-five in save opportunities with a 2.16 ERA; Jim Johnson has thrown 8 2/3 scoreless innings with a save and four holds; Nick Masset has a 2.70 ERA through nine appearances after compiling a 5.87 ERA since signing with Atlanta on May 19.

Brandon Cunniff is an exception to the bullpen’s recent success. He actually pitched better in early June, with five consecutive scoreless appearances from June 3-10. He has a 5.06 ERA with nine hits allowed in 5 1/3 innings since June 11.

Quality bullpen numbers don’t necessarily translate into wins, though, as the Braves are 7-10 since June 11. They entered Tuesday’s game in third place in the division, six games behind the Nationals.