Winkler (1-0) struck out one in a perfect seventh inning Friday to pick up the win in a 2-1 victory over the Diamondbacks. The right-hander has been outstanding after getting a late start to the season, posting a 1.54 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 13:4 K:BB through 11.2 innings. Luke Jackson is pitching well in the closer role for Atlanta, but if he were to falter, Winkler could well be the next man up in the ninth.
Winkler was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday. Winkler got a late start to spring training due to elbow soreness and struggled during his six appearances, ticketing him to the minors to begin the season. The 29-year-old posted a 3.43 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 69:20 K:BB over 60.1 innings and recorded 23 holds for the Braves last season, so he could well carve out a bullpen role this time around.
Winkler was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday. Winkler will open the season in the minors after struggling to an 8.44 ERA and 2.06 WHIP through six Grapefruit League appearances (5.1 innings). The right-hander notched a 3.43 ERA and 10.3 K/9 in 60.1 innings last season, so he should be one of the first pitchers called upon when the Braves need a fresh reliever.
Winkler (elbow) threw a scoreless inning in relief in Wednesday's spring game against the Tigers. He did not allow any runners to reach base and recorded one strikeout. Winkler had not thrown before Wednesday due to soreness in his elbow, but he was finally able to get up on the bump for the first time during the exhibition season. Barring any abnormal soreness following Wednesday's outing, Winkler should be ready well in advance of Opening Day.
Winkler has been slowed by elbow soreness but is expected to make his spring debut Wednesday against the Tigers, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports. Elbow problems are always worrisome for any pitcher, though this specific issue doesn't appear to be a major one. Winkler doesn't seem to be particularly close to the top of the Braves' closer depth chart, but if A.J. Minter's shoulder injury is worse than expected, he could move up a spot.