Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 5/20/13
The Atlanta Braves enjoyed a significant advantage in recent seasons, deploying not one but two premier left-handed relievers. Now Jonny Venters has undergone Tommy John surgery and Eric OFlaherty is likely to follow. Huge blows, for sure. But not necessarily crushing. General manager Frank Wren said Saturday that the trade market has yet to develop, but rest assured, the Braves will actively search for another left-handed specialist. Mike Dunn, whom the Braves sent to Miami in the Dan Uggla trade in November 2010, would be ideal. For now, the Braves still have one quality lefty, Luis Avilan, who has pitched 6 23 consecutive scoreless innings. Right-hander Jordan Walden, currently out with right shoulder inflammation, throws a split change that neutralizes left-handed hitters. Righty Cory Rasmus, the younger brother of Colby, also has a good changeup and had terrific numbers at Triple-A. Frankly, the Braves could be in worse shape. The Washington Nationals are only two games over .500 and rank 13th out of 15 in the National League in runs per game. The Philadelphia Phillies are two games under .500 and dealing with their own injury issues catcher Carlos Ruiz suffered a strained right hamstring Sunday, and first baseman Ryan Howard will undergo an MRI on his right knee Monday. The Braves are deeper than both of those clubs. Manager Fredi Gonzalez is turning to the red-hot Jordan Schafer when he gives center fielder B.J. Upton occasional days off to work through mechanical issues. Ramiro Pena represents the same kind of alternative to Uggla at second base, and the Braves are getting terrific production from multiple players at catcher and third base. There is still a lot to like with this team.
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