MIAMI -- Given that Jonny Venters entered Monday's series against the Marlins with five more appearances than any other Major League reliever, it's not as though manager Fredi Gonzalez has forgotten about his prized reliever.
But while making an effort to rest Venters a little more frequently over the past few weeks, Gonzalez has seen the lefty prove that like many other sinkerballers, he is more effective when his arm feels a little fatigued.
"He's a sinkerballer, and those guys rely on feel," Gonzalez said. "The less rested they are, the better feel they get.
"It seems like every time we give him too much [rest], he has a blip. That's something [pitching coach Roger McDowell] and I have talked about. Roger was the same way, a sinkerball guy."
Venters' most recent struggles came on Sunday, when he issued three walks and allowed two hits in a two-run eighth inning that gave the Mets a lead they would not relinquish. It was the second time he has allowed two hits and two runs in a game since the All-Star break. In both instances, he was pitching with three days of rest.
That said, the Braves needed to give Venters some of the additional rest he has received. Venters entered the All-Star break on pace to make 90 appearances, exited July on pace for 88, entered September on pace for 86 and is now on pace for 85. The 26-year-old has made a Major League-high 160 appearances since the start of 2009.
As the Braves move closer toward a potential playoff run, Gonzalez might start using Venters more frequently, possibly allowing him to face just one batter to keep a feel for his sinker. But until his club clinches a postseason berth, he will simply base his decisions on that day's game.