Braves activate key reliever from injured list, send Jackson Stephens back to minors

The Braves' bullpen is close to full strength now that one of their best righties is back.
Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves
Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves' bullpen has been a crucial part of their team-building philosophy under Alex Anthopoulos. The Braves endeavour every year to have as deep a bullpen as possible with multiple arms that they can trust in high leverage situations. To varying degrees of success, the Braves have largely done that the last several years including 2024.

One of the more important players in that plan this year was Pierce Johnson who impressed everyone after the Braves traded for him at the trade deadline last year. In fact, Johnson made such a great impression that the Braves re-signed him on a two-year deal last offseason. Through 13 appearances this year, he has worth every penny with a 3.00 ERA while striking out 16 batters in 12 innings of work.

Unfortunately, Johnson found himself on the IL with elbow inflammation a couple of weeks ago. Any time a guy's elbow is involved, it is a little scary. However, it appears that Atlanta was just getting ahead of things and giving him some rest to let things calm down before anything structural happened. Their proactivity was rewarded on Saturday as Johnson was activated from the injured list while his replacement, Jackson Stephens, got sent back down to Gwinnett.

Braves News: Pierce Johnson activated from injured list, Stephens shuffled back to Gwinnett

With Johnson healthy again, the Braves' bullpen finds themselves in a pretty good spot. They have been able to stay away from using guys like Raisel Iglesias, AJ Minter, and Joe Jimenez too much for the past week after a heavy workload the previous weekend and now they are adding Johnson back to the fold. That combined with a promising debut from Ray Kerr seemingly has the backend of the Braves' bullpen in good shape.

As for Stephens, you have to feel for the guy, but this is just his role on the Braves. He is essentially on the extended bench down at Gwinnett to fill in as needed. He made three appearances out of the bullpen, two of which were good, and now has to head back to Triple-A to wait for his next opportunity. Fortunately, Atlanta isn't shy about rotating relievers on and off the active roster, so he will get another chance soon enough.

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