George Sherrill passed a physical and became the newest member of the Braves’ bullpen Friday, two days after the veteran left-hander agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.2 million contract.
The former Baltimore closer had a career-worst season in 2010 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, posting a 6.69 ERA in 65 appearances. Sherrill, 33, still held left-handed hitters to a .192 average, but right-handers teed off at an alarming .427 clip.
The Braves believe his woes stemmed from mechanical flaws that cropped up early last season. He smoothed his delivery some and showed some progress in the final two months, and the Braves think that working with pitching coach Roger McDowell will help further.
Sherrill gives the Braves a third lefty in the bullpen, with setup man/closer candidate Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty. Sherrill seems more suited to situational-lefty duties at this stage of his career, rather than pitching complete innings like Venters routinely does.
The Braves traded for veteran right-hander Scott Linebrink from the Chicago White Sox last week, and their bullpen seems set for 2011. After posting the third-lowest bullpen ERA in the National League in 2010, the Braves lost veteran closer Billy Wagner to retirement and setup man Takashi Saito to free agency.
Their 2011 bullpen could have three lefties and four right-handers: Peter Moylan, closer candidate Craig Kimbrel, Linebrink, and either Scott Proctor, rookie Stephen Marek or versatile Cristhian Martinez.