Despite gaudy numbers, Braves knew they needed to add to pen

By the numbers, the Braves have the best bullpen in baseball.

Their relievers have easily the best ERA in baseball (2.62). Their other numbers are also outstanding, whether you look at save percentage (80 percent) or WHIP (1.15).

But with both Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty lost for the season with injuries, the Braves still had big concerns. They looked everywhere for another left-hander to pair with Luis Avilan, and found one Monday when they got Scott Downs from the Angels.

Downs may not be as good as he once was. One rival scout said he hasn't been showing off the "turbo-sink" that convinced the Angels to sign him to a three-year, $15 million contract after 2010.

But Downs is a veteran with good numbers, and as the scout admits, "maybe he was going through the motions with a bad team in Anaheim."

Now, he becomes the first guy to go in an Angels sale that could well include others. He joins a Braves team that holds an 8 1/2-game lead in the National League East.

The Braves just swept the Cardinals, but they still have just a 23-23 record over their last 46 games. The main problem has been an inconsistent offense, but the Braves didn't see a way to address that on the trade market.

They did see the bullpen as a potential issue that needed addressing, despite the gaudy numbers. With Venters and O'Flaherty gone, they saw left-handed relief as a pressing need.

Now they've addressed it.

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