Eric O'Flaherty will be a key part of the Braves 2011 bullpen.
Since arriving to the Atlanta Braves in 2009, Eric O’Flaherty’s role with the team has primarily been as a situational pitcher, dealing with left-handed batters, a role he has performed very well. 2010 was no different, with the only exception being a case of mono, which shelved him on two separate occasions, cutting into almost eight entire weeks of the season.
O’Flaherty enjoyed a career-best 2.45 ERA in 44 innings pitched, over 56 appearances. He also notched a career best 7.4 K/9 ratio, striking out 36 batters in his limited duties. EOF stranded 79% of base-runners, and was extremely stingy with giving up home runs (0.4 HR/9). Most importantly, he did his job against the left-handed batters, limiting them to a .231 batting average, and on-base percentage of a meager .277. Injuries and ineffectiveness from other relievers thrust O’Flaherty into a little more playing time than was expected, but Eric did not falter. Against right-handed batters, there were noticeably more walks, but he still held them to an impressive .229 batting average.
It’s hard to say whether Eric O’Flaherty will still be a Brave in 2011. Entering his first year of arbitration, could price him out beyond what the Braves are willing to spend towards a situational lefty. However, with the trade of Michael Dunn in the Dan Uggla deal doesn't hurt his chances now. Jonny Venters is a candidate to close, and will be responsible for higher-leverage, late-inning situations, so the need for what Michael Dunn would have fulfilled is now vacant for EOF.