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The Braves' Superb Trio Of Left-Handed Relievers

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None of them will be an All-Star this year, but the Braves have three of the best left-handed relievers in all of baseball: Billy Wagner, Jonny Venters, and Eric O'Flaherty. Most teams don't even have three lefty relievers good enough to pitch in the majors, but the Braves have three dominant ones. Here's how they stack up next to other relievers (ranks are among left-handed relievers in MLB with at least 30 innings pitched).

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ERA
Wagner 1.27 (2nd)
Venters 1.36 (3rd)
O'Flaherty 2.34 (7th)

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Batting Average Against
Wagner .167 (2nd)
Venters .183 (5th)
O'Flaherty .222 (T-9th)

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Strikeouts Per 9 Innings
Wagner 14.01 (1st)
Venters 9.30 (6th)
O'Flaherty 7.84 (11th)

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Home Runs Allowed Per 9 Innings
Venters 0.00 (T-1st... No homers in 39+ innings!)
O'Flaherty 0.29 (T-6th)
Wagner 0.76 (12th)

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FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching)
Wagner 2.23 (3rd)
Venters 2.88 (6th)
O'Flaherty 3.16 (T-7th)

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WAR (Wins Above Replacement)
Wagner 1.0 (4th)
Venters 0.7 (6th)
O'Flaherty 0.5 (T-8th)

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Any way you slice it, the Braves have three of the best dozen left-handed relievers in baseball, which is quite an amazing feat. Even more impressive, the Braves also have one of the best left-handed relief prospects in Mike Dunn, who was acquired from the Yankees in the Javier Vazquez trade. Dunn has a 1.11 ERA and has 54 strikeouts to only 25 hits allowed in 40.2 innings for AAA Gwinnett. He would probably be the best lefty in some teams' bullpens, but he is only the fourth-best option for the Braves. Wow.

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Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.