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Bullpen Breakdown: Braves

The Atlanta Braves are home to one of the most confusing bullpen situations in all of baseball. Here is a breakdown to help you make sense of what is being put together in Atlanta.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It's safe to say the Braves bullpen is unsettled. Last year the team used a ridiculous 32 different guys out of the bullpen, excluding former outfielder Jonny Gomes, due to injury, trades, and ineffectiveness. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that the Braves ranked 29th in bullpen ERA with a 4.69 mark, which is more than a full run worse than the National League average(3.66) and barely better than the last place Rockies(4.70).

If there was any good news for this group last year, it was that injury-prone former top prospect Arodys Vizcaino took over the closer job and looked strong towards the end of the year. After a year of blowing leads Braves went out and added a slew of hard throwing relievers to attempt to fix their bullpen issues of a year ago- but it's still nothing like those O'Flaherty/Venters/Kimbrel units which were among the best in the league not so long ago.

The biggest question with the Braves bullpen is who will close. There are three different guys who held the job in 2015 back with the team this year. Jason Grilli, who started out the season very strong before an Achilles injury ended his year, is the favorite. Grilli went 3-4 with a 2.94 ERA and 1.13 WHIP while saving 24 games last year, but he's going to be 39 this year and is coming off a major injury. Another factor with Grilli is that prior to the injury he was close to being dealt at the trading deadline last year as the Braves are a rebuilding club and Grilli doesn't fit longterm. Grilli may start out the year as the closer, but with his age, injury history, and trade value if he does manage to succeed, he won't have a lock on holding the job all year.

Former top prospect Arodys Vizcaino stayed healthy last year and went 3-1 with a 1.60 ERA and 1.19 WHIP to go with his 9 saves. Vizcaino is the guy with the best pure stuff of the trio, and at the age of 25 this year, he is potentially the future here at closer. Right now Vizcaino is second in line for saves, but there is a guy very close to him for that role. Still he could have potential with holds in leagues that count them as well, and is definitely a sleeper saves candidate.

Former All Star closer Jim Johnson was promoted to the job from his setup role when Grilli went down and went 2-3 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.23 WHIP to go with his 9 saves. Johnson was solid in the role before being dealt to the Dodgers in the Hector Olivera deal, but re-signed with the Braves this winter. He's technically third in line for saves at the moment, but he will definitely get some chances through the year, and should get holds for you. He doesn't have the upside of Vizcaino, and also has the risk of being traded midseason, as he will be 33 this year and may not fit the Braves longterm plans.

The Braves have three more deep options to have on the radar as well. A pair of injured young pitchers from last year, Chris Withrow and Shae Simmons, as well as starter Mike Foltynewicz. Withrow is a big, hard throwing reliever who hasn't pitched since 2014 due to Tommy John, while Simmons is a smaller reliever who was lights out in 2014 before needing Tommy John of his own last year. Foltynewicz is a starter with a huge fastball, but hasn't put it all together yet and is a candidate to be moved to the bullpen. None of these three are worth owning, but they are worth monitoring.