Atlanta Braves relief pitchers A.J. Minter and Will Smith appear prominently on ESPN's Most Added list as incumbent closer Kenley Jansen serves an IL stint. This is hardly surprising news. Jansen is out with an irregular heartbeat, so someone will handle the ninth inning in his stead, and since the Braves win often and are playoff-bound, there is much to save. It all makes sense, but Jansen has already announced he will return to the active roster next Tuesday, immediately when eligible. All is well. He is healthy again. Investors should not be panicking and certainly not dropping him.
While acknowledging the inherent risk of his heart condition, it remains a bit tough to view Jansen as anything but a top-10 relief pitcher for the rest of this season. Not only are the Braves really good, but Jansen is posting his best strikeout percentage (36.4%) since the 2017 season as he continues to rely on a dominant cutter, still featuring extensive movement. Jansen is hardly perfect; his 3.58 ERA is a downer, but it comes with a 2.16 FIP and sub-1 WHIP. He last issued a walk in May. He saved 38 games for last season's Los Angeles Dodgers and seems primed for 35-plus saves for the seventh time. Now is the time to invest, before he makes a triumphant return in one week.
As for the next week, there is little doubt that Minter has pitched better than Smith this season, but smart managers know baseball games are often won and lost prior to the ninth inning, so some deploy their top relievers in the highest-leverage situation. Minter saved the first win sans Jansen, but Smith has closed out the three save-eligible victories since then, though hardly in dominant form, and each with a comfortable three-run lead that he tried to make less comfortable. If saves don't matter, Minter is the pitcher to get.