High expectations await Venters in pre-spring camp

This time last year, Jonny Venters came to the pre-spring pitching camp at Turner Field a virtual unknown. Nobody outside maybe the coaches’ offices knew of his 95 mph sinker, and even that didn’t do much for his nerves.

“I’d never been to the stadium,” Venters said. “I was so nervous. (Pitching coach) Roger (McDowell) was watching me throw my bullpen, and I was like ‘Oh my gosh.’ I think I threw five strikes the whole time. ‘They’re going to send me home.’”

This time around, he still has the giddiness. “It’s still cool for me to walk through here,” he said. But throw in some serious expectation on top.

With the retirement of Billy Wagner, Venters and rookie Craig Kimbrel are candidates for the closer’s job.

“I didn’t think too much about what role I’d be in,” said Venters, who tied for sixth among all NL relievers with a 1.95 ERA in 79 games as a rookie last season. “I just want to go out and attack hitters and wherever that takes me in terms of my role, I just want to do whatever it is I can to help this team back to the playoffs.”

Venters has gained 10 pounds of muscle hoping to improve his stamina late in the season, saying “My stuff was not as sharp as it was early.”

He’s also planning to focus on his fielding as he enters spring training. A couple of throws into center field on double-play balls have stuck in his craw.

“Being a groundball guy, I have to be good at fielding my position,” Venters said. “It’s definitely something I want to improve on.”

18 comments Add your comment

hansoal

January 31st, 2011
6:50 pm

ColoradoBravesFan

January 31st, 2011
6:56 pm

I hope Kimbrel gets all the saves and is so good that Venters doesn’t get 20 save opportunities. But, I also want Venters to have a sub 2 era in 75 games. If those two things happened our bullpen should not be an issue.

JC Boscan III

January 31st, 2011
7:07 pm

If our bullpen is 11-12 deep this year, there should be no reason to burn out Venters and Moylan like we did last year….Guys like Sherrill and Linebrink could be key to having a great bullpen, by sparing the top 4 relievers from being ridden until they’re ready for the glue factory by early September!! Tired of the cold weather — bring on baseball season!!

Kat

January 31st, 2011
7:26 pm

Carroll thanks for the multiple blog posts today! I had a lot of good Braves news to read while eating dinner.

Luke M

January 31st, 2011
8:34 pm

Trying to decide who I like to win the closer role. Thinking Venters since Kimbrel has shown some control issues.

Billy Jack's Barbecue & Shrimp Co.

January 31st, 2011
8:52 pm

If you post on multiple blogs on the same day is that like going 2 for 3 or 3 for 4?

meat

January 31st, 2011
9:11 pm

I worry how Venter’s arm will hold up this year. Bobby threw him out there quite a bit for a rookie. And slinging high 90’s heat i imagine would take a toll on the elbow over a season.

Chip

February 1st, 2011
8:59 am

You guys are talking about saves and ERA, which aren’t good ways of judging relief pitchers.

C'Mon Man

February 1st, 2011
10:43 am

Let’s just hope they don’t throw his arm off like Bobby did last year…

chief pitchanono

February 1st, 2011
10:49 am

Yeah, nobody deserved the offseason more than Venters, Bobby worked him hard last year. If he just continues what he did last year, this bullpen will be fine. Hopefully out other lefties will be healthy and he won’t get worked so hard in 2011

Longhorn

February 1st, 2011
11:04 am

He will be fine. He has not been pitching long at all and he just found his release last year. He only threw 20 innings in college so he has not grown up as that ace on the staff who gets over worked. Last year was also his first out of the pen. I think that Proctor and Marek will be names we here more this season. Proctor is in his second year of recovery and history says he will be better than he was before the injury. And Marek is just filthy and should get a shot.

ramblingman

February 1st, 2011
12:44 pm

I am looking forward to having Venters and Kimbrel in the same pen. This could be a very, very good staff.

Go Braves

Chopper

February 1st, 2011
12:46 pm

The key to keeping Venters and Kimbrel fresh (and the bullpen in general) will be how deep the starters go all year long. If the starters can get past the 6th inning on a regular basis the bullpen will be able to back up and keep from using 4 relievers every night.

I think because Venters and Kimbrel are young, they might benefit from a platoon based closer role. For example, when facing the Phillies, if you have Utley/Howard/Ibanez due up, you definitely go with Venters in the 9th inning to close out a game. If you’re facing the Cardinals and Pujols/Holliday are due up you go with Kimbrel. If the due ups are not so formidable or all hit one way you go with who is fresher, or go with the guy who misses more bats…Kimbrel.

ColoradoBravesFan

February 1st, 2011
2:46 pm

Chip– This article is all about the expectations from Venters this year. It discusses Wagner leaving and who will fill the closers role. No one stated anywhere that saves and ERA were the best stats for a relief pitcher. Just discussed that we all hope that Kimbrel is good enough as the closer that he gets the saves, Venters repeats his outstanding rookie season and how maybe Venters will not be over worked as he was in cases last season.

If Venters repeats with over 80 innings and a sub 2 ERA, I think you can agree that will be an outstanding season for a 2nd year relief pitcher. GO BRAVES….

NickB

February 1st, 2011
4:08 pm

IF Sherrill can nail down the LOOGY role, this should leave Venters much more fesh come Sep. than last year. I honestly don’t care if we name Kimbrel the closer and Venters the 8th guy, or go with a closer by committee depending on the handedness of the batters. What matters is wins! Those two guys have the potential to overshadow what Soriano and Gonzo did here a few years back!

stew

February 2nd, 2011
12:36 pm

I sincerely hope that Sherill, Lopez, Linebrink, and Valvaro don’t make the team. How many scrubs can we sign in the off season? How about some new blood? The bullpen at this point is Kimbrel, Venters, Moylan (who didn’t pitch too well late), and EOF. Why can’t we have a LOOGY or long reliever from the farm? Does Venters or Kimbrel really need someone to hold it for them if they run into a bad streak? I just don’t understand the necessity of adding relievers with high ERAs. They didn’t pitch well last year. Why does management think they will reverse the trend?

David O'Brien

February 2nd, 2011
2:08 pm

I sincerely hope that Sherill, Lopez, Linebrink, and Valvaro don’t make the team. — Stew

Barring injury, Sherrill and Linebrink will make the team.

And just FYI, it’s Varvaro, not Valvaro. Anthony Varvaro. But that’s an easy mistake to make (I think I’ve already misspelled it once myself).

Luck of the irish

February 2nd, 2011
4:01 pm

@Stew – “I just don’t understand the necessity of adding relievers with high ERAs. They didn’t pitch well last year. Why does management think they will reverse the trend?”

Eric O’ Flaherty -

Seattle 2008 Era – 20.28
Atlanta 2009 Era – 3.04
Atlanta 2010 Era – 2.45

The season in Seattle was injury shortened so it’s not a completely fair comparison (although his previous 2 season with Seattle were +4.00 ERA) but it shows where low risk gambles can pay huge dividends. If it doesn’t work out they don’t make the team and you haven’t lost much.

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