Winkler signed a one-year, $1.61 million contract with the Braves on Friday to avoid arbitration, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. Winkler had a 3.43 ERA and 1.19 WHIP across 60.1 innings during 2018, featuring a solid 10.3 K/9. The 28-year-old is likely to begin 2019 in a middle-relief role, but should also be in the mix for more high-leverage situations as well.
Winkler was left off the Braves' roster for the NLDS against the Dodgers. Winkler will not be available to pitch this series after posting a 3.43 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 69 strikeouts in 60.1 innings of relief this season. In his place, manager Brian Snitker elected to give roster spots to relievers Max Fried, Jonny Venters and Chad Sobotka.
Winkler gave up one hit in a scoreless ninth inning while striking out two Monday against the Pirates en route to his second save of the season. A.J. Minter was unavailable with back tightness and is considered day-to-day. Winkler has pitched very well in his own right, and could be viewed as a more deserving candidate for saves than Minter, even when the latter is healthy. Arodys Vizcaino (shoulder) is still rehabbing, so there may be more save chances for Winkler going forward, particularly while Minter and Vizcaino are injured.
Winkler recorded the final two outs to pick up his first save Friday against the Cardinals. Luke Jackson let two runners reach base with a four-run lead to begin the ninth inning, gifting a save opportunity to Winkler, who needed just six pitches to clean up the mess. He has been excellent this season, with a 2.48 ERA and an absurd 42:9 K:BB in 32.2 innings, but with Arodys Vizcaino (shoulder) returning this weekend, it doesn't look like Winkler will get regular save chances any time soon.
Winkler coughed up four runs on three hits and a walk while recording only one out in the ninth inning Friday to blow his first save of the season in an extra-innings loss to the Orioles. With Arodys Vizcaino tending to a sore shoulder, Winkler got the chance to close after the Braves staged a six-run rally in the top of the ninth, but the 28-year-old couldn't get the job done. he still holds a 2.73 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 41:9 K:BB through 29.2 innings on the season, but with A.J. Minter also available to fill in for Vizcaino when he's unavailable, it could be a while before Winkler sees another save opportunity.