Miami – Braves manager Bobby Cox raised a few eyebrows Tuesday night when he sent reliever Jesse Chavez back out to pitch a second inning. Chavez gave up three runs in the eighth inning of a 6-4 loss to the Marlins.
Cox acknowledged Wednesday that’s a spot, down one run, where he normally would have used Kris Medlen. But Medlen is in the rotation now, pitching in place of the injured Jair Jurrjens, leaving Cox to count more on Chavez, despite his 7.71 ERA.
“I didn’t want to use (Takashi) Saito at all last night and (Peter) Moylan and (Eric) O’Flaherty only if we were tied or ahead,” Cox said. “Jesse pitched a great first inning. He struck out (Hanley) Ramirez to start the second.”
Cox thinks Chavez has shown great improvement since spring training and reiterated Wednesday afternoon the confidence he has in the pitcher the Braves acquired from Tampa in the Rafael Soriano trade.
Chavez had multi-run outings in three of his last five appearances entering Wednesday. But Cox sees him settling in and showing much better command than in spring training when he had a 12.60 ERA with six walks in 10 innings.
“You see his command, mound presence, his stuff, everything,” Cox said. “He’s not trying to throw 100 (mph) anymore and scattering it all over the place. He’s in the strike zone. That’s what I’m impressed with. The results will come later, but he’s so much better. Rather than just a fastball, he’s throwing a curveball, he’s throwing a changeup more than he ever has, and he’s got the little cutter/ slider. He’s got a chance to come around this year and be good, I think.”