Braves Reinstate Pierce Johnson, Jackson Stephens Sent to Triple-A

The Atlanta Braves have announced that right-handed pitcher Pierce Johnson is back on the active roster after recovering from elbow inflammation that landed him on the 15-day injured list. To make room for Johnson, Jackson Stephens has been moved to Triple-A Gwinnett.

Johnson’s time on the injured list was retroactive to May 1, so he missed just slightly more than the required 15 days. The delay in Johnson’s return was partly due to giving Stephens extra time to clear waivers.

In the first 12 innings of the 2024 season, Johnson posted a 3.00 ERA, with a strikeout rate of 32%, a walk rate of 10%, and a groundball rate of 58.6%. Johnson’s main challenge in his career has been control, evidenced by his 11.5% walk rate over 137 2/3 innings with three different teams from 2017 to 2022.

Last season with the Rockies, this issue worsened, with his walk rate rising to 13.3% and his ERA to 6.00 before being traded to the Braves. However, he turned his performance around with Atlanta, achieving an impressive 0.76 ERA, a 5.6% walk rate, and a 36% strikeout rate in 23 2/3 innings, securing his role in the bullpen and earning a two-year, $14.25 million contract extension.

Stephens, who is out of minor league options, has frequently been moved through the DFA/outright process to Triple-A. Typically, he opts for free agency in these situations but often re-signs with the Braves on a minor league deal. This pattern might continue, as Stephens could explore other opportunities before likely returning to the Braves as a depth option.

Since joining the Braves in the 2021-22 offseason, Stephens has performed well, with a 3.52 ERA over 69 innings, including 53 2/3 innings in 2022, despite missing much of last season due to injuries.

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