Livan Hernandez Signs with Atlanta Braves: Why This Makes Braves Bullpen Better

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIApril 1, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 4: Starting pitcher Livan Hernandez #61 of the Washington Nationals works the first inning the New York Mets at Nationals Park on September 4, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

With the signing of Livan Hernandez, the Atlanta Braves' bullpen has gotten much better.

Many people on the outside look at this move as not making a big difference in the grand scheme of things.

However, I think this moves gives Atlanta the best bullpen in baseball, if they weren't already the best.

Hernandez was released by the Houston Astros and hours later was in the Braves' clubhouse after signing a one-year deal.

The move was much needed when Cory Gearrin struggled in consecutive appearances in spring training. This caused the Braves to look elsewhere for bullpen help in hopes that Gearrin can figure things out in Triple-A to start the season.

Hernandez is not competing for the No. 5 job in the rotation, and understood that prior to signing with the Braves. However, should he need to make a spot start, he's available to do so.

Another great thing this signing does is prevent the team from having to face Hernandez.

Over the course of his career, Hernandez has mastered the Braves. For some reason, the Braves could never solve his pitching even though other teams could.

Last year he went 2-2 against them, giving up eight earned runs in 23.1 innings. In 2010 he was 2-1, giving up six earned runs in 22.2 innings.

Last year, manager Fredi Gonzalez seemed to not be very confident in his bullpen outside of Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty. Thus, most Braves fans felt the back end of the bullpen was overused and led to the collapse of the team in September.

Now, with Kris Medlin, Cristhian Martinez and Hernandez filling three of the other relief roles, the Braves now have three relievers who can log multiple innings if need be.

So, when there's a game where the result isn't in question, the Braves can use one or a combination of those three guys to finish out the game and save the O'Ventebrel trio.

The biggest advantage of having Hernandez in the bullpen is that the other relievers will be able to lean on the veteran and his postseason experience.

When it comes to a pressure situation and someone you can be confident in to give you an inning or two, Hernandez is a guy that won't fold under the pressure.