CHICAGO -- Eric O'Flaherty needed just 12 appearances to allow as many earned runs as he surrendered in 78 appearances during his record-breaking season last year. But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he is not concerned about the left-handed reliever.
"There isn't anything glaring or crazy," Gonzalez said. "Anytime you [post a 0.98 ERA] and then all of a sudden you give up some runs, people are going to wonder, 'What's the matter with you?' But I think he's fine."
O'Flaherty enjoyed a magical and historical season while posting a 0.98 ERA in his 73 2/3 innings last year. The 27-year-old became the first pitcher in Major League history to post a sub-1.00 ERA with at least 70 innings in a season.
This year, O'Flaherty has been reminded of the fact that a reliever has little room for error. Six of the eight earned runs he has surrendered have been totaled in two of his 12 appearances. In addition, four of those eight runs have come courtesy of two home runs, a total that also matches the number he surrendered last year.
But O'Flaherty has not simply been the victim of bad luck this year. He has issued six walks in his first 11 innings, and right-handed hitters are hitting .448 with a .529 on-base percentage and a .690 slugging percentage in 35 plate appearances against him.
O'Flaherty issued just one walk in his final 20 2/3 innings last season and a total of 21 on the season. He limited right-handed hitters to a .233 batting average, a .305 on-base percentage and a .294 slugging percentage in 205 plate appearances.