He got an epidural and was ready when the 2013 season began. And after left-handers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty both had season-ending elbow injuries — Venters at the end of spring training, O’Flaherty six weeks into the season — Walden emerged as a top setup man for much of the season.
He had a 2.36 ERA and .203 opponents’ average in 37 appearances through July 29, with 39 strikeouts in 34-1/3 innings. But Walden struggled for the last two months of the season, posting a 6.39 ERA and .265 opponents’ average in 13 appearances after July 29 and missing three weeks with a strained groin beginning in late August.
In his only four September appearances after coming back from that injury, he gave up eight hits, six earned runs in 3-1/3 innings.
With Venters not expected back until June and O’Flaherty gone to Oakland as a free agent, the Braves’ top returning setup men are Walden, Luis Avilan (their only incumbent lefty) and David Carpenter.