Who Could Get Saves in Atlanta with Braves Reliever Raisel Iglesias Out of Action?

Just days before the start of the 2023 regular season, another closer goes down due to injury. Braves closer Raisel Iglesias has suffered inflammation in his right shoulder, which will keep him out for at least the very beginning of the year. That could open the door for a hard-throwing left-hander to get some save opportunities in the meantime.

Related: How the Cardinals Can Adjust After Injury to Adam Wainwright

A Look at Iglesias

Braves reliever Raisel Iglesias —who we ranked as the seventh-best fantasy closer prior to Edwin Diaz‘s injury — appeared poised to take the reigns of the Atlanta closer spot after Kenley Jansen left this past winter. Iglesias had a dominant run in the Braves bullpen upon being acquired from the Angels last summer. The 33-year-old posted a sparkling .34 ERA and 30 strikeouts over 26.1 innings pitched.

Iglesias’ success can be contrived from how he used his splitter and slider, in tandem with his hard fastball. Both his splitter and slider had Whiff% rates north of 40% in 2022, and Iglesias notched 45 of his 71 strikeouts off of those two weapons.

Previously a closer with the Reds and Angeles, Iglesias seemed highly likely to begin the 2023 season as Atlanta’s main man in the ninth inning. But, that won’t be the case.

The Braves announced on March 23 that Iglesias will be shut down for at least a week, thanks to “low-grade” inflammation in his right shoulder. Atlanta confirmed that the righty will begin the 2023 campaign on the IL.

A Look at the Braves Bullpen

Back in December, we wrote about the depth of the Braves bullpen for 2023. Even though Tyler Matzek is out for all of 2023, the Braves still have a deep group that includes Lucas Luetge, Joe Jimenez, Dylan Lee, A.J. Minter, and the aforementioned Iglesias. However, the injury to Iglesias does leave a hole in the closer’s spot.

With Iglesias out for at least the first few days of the season, that does open up the path for A.J. Minter to pick up saves. Minter does have experience as a closer, albeit a checkered one. The lefty struggled in 2019 as the ninth-inning arm for the Braves, but has found success since then. Between 2020-22, Minter owned a 2.50 ERA and a 10.9 K/9 over 144 innings.

Don’t be surprised, however, if Atlanta does opt to use Lee or Jimenez in spurts late in games, as well. That rings especially true for Jimenez, a power right-hander who does have some experience closing out games for the Tigers.

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