Atlanta Braves activate Michael Tonkin, option Roddery Munoz

Atlanta Braves activate reliever Michael Tonkin from the 15-day IL.
Atlanta Braves activate reliever Michael Tonkin from the 15-day IL. / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports
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Early this morning, the Atlanta Braves activated right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin for the 15-dal IL. To make room for Tonkin’s return, the club option Roddey Munoz to Triple-A Gwinnett.

The much-needed return of Tonkin adds a fresh arm to a bullpen that’s leaned heavily on Joe Jimenez, Jesse Chavez, and Kirby Yates in the final third of the games.

Injuries to Iglesias, Fried, and Wright and short outings from starters early in the year forced the bullpen to come into games sooner and, in one stretch, become the de facto fifth starter. Without Chavez, and Tonkin, the first two months might have turned out differently.

Tonkin is another find in the mold of Tyler Matzek for the Atlanta Braves scouts. A 30th-round draft pick of the Twins in 2008, he made his MLB debut in 2013, throwing 11.1 innings over six games for Minnesota,

Tonkin pitched well for the Twins through 2015, but his ERA jumped to 5.02 when pushed to 65 innings in 2016. It remained high in limited innings during 2017, and the Twins released him at the end of the season.

He moved to Japan, pitched for Nippon Ham in 2018, and returned to the U.S. in 2019, pitching for both the Brewers' and Diamondbacks' minor league affiliates.

Tonkin spent the 2021 season pitching in independent leagues ball, throwing nine innings over six games for Toros de Tijuana in the Mexican League, then returned to the U.S. to pitch for the Long Island Ducks and appearing in 16 games, and throwing 17 innings at a 0.53 ERA for the Long Island Ducks.

Joining the Atlanta Braves

His success for the Ducks earned him a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves in 2022. Tonkin thanked the Braves by tossing 48.1 innings over 47 games with a 3.17 ERA for Gwinnett.

Tonkin pitched well in spring training and returned to the majors with the Braves this year, six years after he left the Twins, and proven himself a dependable arm, pitching to a 3.42 ERA in 26.1 IP over 13 games before a strained neck forced him onto the IL.

The Atlanta Braves bullpen has had its ups and downs this season, so Roddery Munoz may well be back sooner rather than later. But the return of Tonkin is good news for manager Brian Snitker.

The Braves send rookie starters to the mound for every game in their Series against the Nationals, so Tonkin may have a busy weekend.