Braves Reinstate Key Reliever From Injured List

The Atlanta Braves have activated curveballer Pierce Johnson from the injured list, choosing to outright Jackson Stephens to AAA Gwinnett in a corresponding move
Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Pierce Johnson, sidelined with elbow inflammation, was activated from the injured list this morning.
Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Pierce Johnson, sidelined with elbow inflammation, was activated from the injured list this morning. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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The Atlanta Braves are getting some reinforcements for their pitching staff. 

Which is good, because they used a lot of relievers last night. 

The Braves announced this morning that they have reinstated reliever Pierce Johnson from the 15-day injured list, as expected. First eligible to return on Friday, Manager Brian Snitker indicated prior to Friday’s game that the team wanted to wait one more day before reinstating him as he threw live batting practice on Wednesday and wouldn’t have been available to pitch on Friday night. 

With Atlanta’s challenging upcoming schedule - they’re one day into a stretch of seventeen games in seventeen days - Johnson not being available on Friday would have left the bullpen shorthanded for the series opener versus the San Diego Padres.

Waiting one more day to activate Johnson worked out; the Braves bullpen needed to cover 4.2 innings against San Diego after starter Max Fried made it only one out into the fifth inning before needing to be removed. 

The game situation, however, dictated using higher-leverage relievers on Friday. After Aaron Bummer pitched 1.2 in relief of Fried, the team asked Joe Jiménez, Jesse Chavez, and Raisel Iglesias to all pitch a full inning.

The game being close meant that the team couldn’t put some bulk innings on the corresponding move for Johnson’s activation - long man Jackson Stephens, who was outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett. 

The choice to move Stephens is an interesting one, but it shows a desire to keep Ray Kerr (who has minor-league options) in the bullpen mix. The lefty, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the San Diego Padres, has looked spectacular in his first six innings for the Braves since being called up. Kerr has thrown six innings with one run allowed on five hits, striking out six with no walks. He averages 96 mph with his fastball, buttressing the heater with a low-80s curveball and a high-80s changeup. He’ll serve in the same lefty fireballer role previously filled by Tyler Matzek, who is currently on the injured list with elbow inflammation after struggling in his return from Tommy John surgery in 2022. 

Stephens will now be subject to waivers; if he goes unclaimed, he'll be able to stay in the organization and Atlanta will still have the ability to call him back up later if needed for a bulk role.

Lindsay Crosby


Managing Editor for Braves Today and the 2023 IBWAA Prospects/Minors Writer of the Year. You can reach him at