Braves will be flexible with Vizcaino, Minter as closers

Feb 15, 2018 Lake Buena Vista: Braves pitcher A.J. Minter loosens up his arm on Thursday, Feb 15, 2018, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista.     Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Feb 15, 2018 Lake Buena Vista: Braves pitcher A.J. Minter loosens up his arm on Thursday, Feb 15, 2018, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

A.J. Minter notched the first save of his career Wednesday in Cincinnati. Expect to see more opportunities to follow.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said after the game he’ll be flexible with how he uses Arodys Vizcaino and Minter in the ninth inning, depending on matchups and which is available.

In other words, Snitker can play to the circumstances. It would put less burden on each pitcher and perhaps lessen the need to use either on back-to-back nights.

“I’m hoping we see (Minter) in it a lot,” Snitker said. “That means we’re using a lot of guys and doing well in the ninth inning. So I have no problem at all with just going with the matchups and not wearing one guy out.”

Minter, a hard-throwing lefty, faced the middle of the Reds order with a 5-4 lead in the ninth. He got Joey Votto to fly out to left and struck out Scooter Gennett. Gold-glover Ender Inciarte came up with a jumping catch at the wall to make Adam Duvall the game’s final out.

“He’s been in a lot of (high leverage spots) this year,” Snitker said of Minter. “It was good to see how he responds in the ninth inning. … You’re facing the heart of their lineup right there. It was good matchups for him.”

Vizcaino owns a 1.69 ERA with one save in 10 2/3 innings. He’s struck out 11 and walked seven. Minter’s posted a 2.19 ERA across 12 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and eight walks.

Opponents are hitting .135 against Vizcaino and .189 against Minter.

“Viz is a great pitcher,” Minter said. “He deserves to be in that situation as long as anyone can be, especially in this bullpen. So I definitely think it will help in the future, especially if one of us has to go back-to-back days. Just give (one of us) a break that day. It’s always good to have depth. Like I said, anyone on this bullpen staff can be in those situations.”