New Braves lefty reliever Dana Eveland was asked before the game Thursday if he was thrilled to wear a Braves uniform, considering the organization’s rich pitching history.
“I’m hoping I can get some of that magic rubbed in from the locker room, I guess,” Eveland said with a smile.
The team hopes he’s talking about the magic of Glavine, Smoltz and Maddux, among others — not the dark magic cursing this year’s bullpen.
Opponents have scored 100 of their 260 runs and cranked 24 homers in the seventh inning or later this season. And despite better performances of late, the team’s bullpen still has the worst ERA in the majors. The team’s eighth-inning ERA is 5.80, the highest of any inning.
A lot of that damage has come off right-handed relievers, as Luis Avilan has been the only consistently used lefty out of the pen. He has a 3.09 ERA through 31 games — already half the amount he pitched last season. The Braves’ other lefty relievers this year were Donnie Veal (14.54 ERA), Eric Stults (5.85 ERA), Ian Thomas (3.38 ERA with Atlanta, traded to the Dodgers) and Andrew McKirahan (suspended 80 games for performance-enhancing drugs).
Eveland put up some great numbers with the New York Mets last season, compiling a 2.63 ERA in 30 appearances and nearly striking out a batter per inning. An elbow injury shut him down late in the season, though, and rehab set him back in the offseason before starting with his new team, the Boston Red Sox.
“Going into spring training I wasn’t as sharp as I’d like to be, so I didn’t really have a chance with Boston,” he said. “They had three other lefties in the big leagues, so I was fortunate the have the out in my contract and be here now.”
Eveland opted out of his contract last week after compiling a 1.54 ERA in 16 appearances with Boston’s Triple-A affiliate. The Braves signed him and David Aardsma on Sunday, and Aardsma pitched a scoreless debut inning Tuesday night. Eveland made one appearance with Triple-A Gwinnett, striking out five batters in 1 2/3 scoreless innings Tuesday.
“The fact that it’s taken this long (to get back to the big leagues) is kind of disappointing,” Eveland said. “But I’m here now, happy and ready to go to work.”
The Braves designated Trevor Cahill for assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday to make room on the roster for Eveland. If Cahill clears waivers and doesn’t accept a minor-league assignment, he can choose to become a free agent. The Braves owe Cahill $5.5 million this year.
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