Atlanta Braves 2022 Season Review: Dylan Lee

Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Dylan Lee (52) throws a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Dylan Lee (52) throws a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the strengths of the Atlanta Braves’ 2022 roster was their bullpen and one of the more surprising contributors to it was LHP Dylan Lee. In a bullpen that had a lot of name recognition and track record elsewhere on the roster, Lee became an integral piece of the Braves’ run to the National League East crown this season.

How did the 2022 season go for Dylan Lee?

Coming into the season, Lee was a somewhat unknown quantity. He barely played during the 2021 regular season (just two appearances with less than stellar results) and he famously started a game in the World Series where the Braves ended up emerging victorious despite Lee failing to make it through the first inning. However, his numbers at Triple-A were very good in 2021 (1.54 ERA with 54 strikeouts and just six walks in 46.2 innings at Gwinnett), so there was some cause for optimism.

What the Braves ended up getting from Dylan, though, was a triumph and one they frankly needed. The Braves bullpen, at least in theory, seemingly had a ton of left-handed talent with former closer/heart attack inducer Will Smith, the stellar AJ Minter, and postseason hero Tyler Matzek leading the charge. Minter certainly did his part in 2022, but Matzek never looked right last season, dealt with injuries most of the season, and ended up having Tommy John surgery in October. Moreover, Will Smith had a tough season plagued by many of the same issues that he managed to pitch around previously and ended up getting traded to the Astros.

All of that left a surprising need for lefty bullpen production over the course of the season for the Braves and they got it from Lee. In 46 appearances for the Braves in 2022, Lee posted a 2.13 ERA and 2.66 FIP with 59 strikeouts and 10 walks in 50.2 innings of work. Altogether, that was good for 1.1 fWAR on the season which was the third highest in the Braves bullpen last season behind Minter and Colin McHugh. Given that the Braves had the second best bullpen in the league (by fWAR), that was no small feat.

What can the Atlanta Braves expect from Dylan Lee in 2023?

It is pretty clear that Lee will be back with the Braves next season. He is still a pre-arbitration player and he performed well last season. When a guy is both cheap and good, they stick around. As discussed above, the Braves bullpen is no longer lefty heavy and Lee fills into that second lefty slot nicely.

It does seem fair to suggest that, at least to start the season, we could see Lee in more higher leverage situations than we did in 2022. Kenley Jansen is a free agent, Tyler Matzek will be out for the season, Will Smith is no longer around, and Lee pitched well in some important spots. Raisel Iglesias and AJ Minter remain the best bullpen options for the Braves in 2023, but after that, it seems like Lee should be right in the mix depending on the match-up. This could change if the Braves add some bullpen help this offseason, but right now it looks like Lee could be a key cog in the Braves bullpen in 2023.

Next. Atlanta Braves 2022 Season Review: SS Dansby Swanson. dark