The Atlanta Braves, already the NL East leaders, only got more dangerous on Wednesday by acquiring dominant closer Shane Greene from Detroit.
Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna both drove in runs, but the Atlanta Braves biggest concern was still on full display Wednesday.
Leading the Washington Nationals 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Braves brought on closer Luke Jackson to finish the game. Jackson quickly gave up two straight hits before being pulled in favor of Sean Newcomb. The Nationals tied the game, and while the Braves ended up winning 5-4 in the 10th, they clearly felt they needed an upgrade at closer.
They got it on Wednesday by trading for the pitcher who’s been arguably the most dominant closer this season. Shane Greene is heading to Atlanta from the Detroit Tigers, a deal first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and confirmed by ESPN’s Buster Olney. Pitchers Paul Richan and Alex Lange will be sent to Detroit in compensation.
The 30-year-old Greene has been the lone bright spot in a terrible season for the Tigers. He’s given up just two runs in 23 innings since May 5 and has the second-lowest ERA in baseball among relievers at 1.18. He’s saved 22 games for a team that’s won 31 all season and hasn’t won consecutive games in two months. Detroit has won just nine of their last 49 games since the start of June and owns the worst record and run differential in the league this year.
The right-hander is striking out 10.18 batters per-nine innings this season and ranks fourth in batting average on balls put in play and eighth in WHIP. Save opportunities for Greene, however, were few and far between, and it didn’t make sense for the Tigers to hang on to a dominant closer when there’s hardly any games to save.
The play of Greene is in stark contrast to the Braves closers. Jackson leads the team with 17 saves, but he has a 13.50 ERA in his last seven appearances. The Braves, though, have managed to overcome this weakness to take a 6.5 game lead in the NL East and have the second-best record in the National League.
The Braves also acquired another former All-Star closer on Wednesday, getting Mark Melancon from the San Francisco Giants. Melancon led the league with 51 saves in 2015 and has a 3.50 ERA in 43 games for the Giants this season.