The Braves announced Monday that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Jackson Stephens from Triple-A Gwinnett and optioned righty Allan Winans in his place. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster, injured right-hander Michael Soroka was transferred to the 60-day IL. Soroka was recently shut down for the season due to forearm inflammation.
Stephens, 29, will get a second big league look with Atlanta after spending the bulk of the 2022 season in their bullpen. He tossed 53 2/3 innings off 3.69 ERA ball last year, striking out 20% of his opponents against a 9.8% walk rate with a 46.3% ground-ball rate. He had a lengthy stay on the minor league injured list this season but has been sharp both in rehab work in the low minors and more recently in Triple-A, where Stephens has pitched 24 2/3 frames with a 3.28 earned run average, 26% strikeout rate and outstanding 4% walk rate.
This will be the fourth season in which Stephens, a former 18th-round pick of the Reds (2012), logs major league time. He’s totaled 117 big league frames between Cincinnati and Atlanta, notching a combined 4.31 ERA in that time. Stephens has been pitching in two- and three-inning stints recently in Gwinnett — some of them starts, some out of the bullpen — so he’ll add some length to the Braves’ bullpen during today’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
It’s quite possible that Kyle Wright will be returning to make his first start since May in the second half of that twin bill, and he’s yet to throw more than 50 pitches or pitch beyond 3 2/3 innings during his rehab stint. As such, there’s all the more reason to call up an arm capable of providing three or perhaps even four innings of relief if needed.