ATLANTA — Now that John Smoltz is going to be a closer when healthy, the Braves will need to find another starter for the rest of the season.
They may have found one in Jo-Jo Reyes.
Reyes gave up one run in 5 1-3 innings in his 2008 debut, and Atlanta broke open a close game with a six-run seventh to beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-1 Saturday night.
Reyes (1-0), recalled from Triple-A Richmond, gave up four hits and one run in 5 À innings. He walked three and struck out five.
"He’s in John Smoltz’s spot, so I say he’s pretty important," Chipper Jones said.
"The kid can pitch here. There’s no doubt about it. He’s got the stuff to pitch here. The only question is can he stay in the strike zone consistently."
Reyes pitched around two fifth-inning walks and was ahead in the count more often against the Reds.
"He can be a big shot in the arm for us, with the news of Smoltzie," catcher Brian McCann said. "He’s got the stuff to succeed at this level. "I think he feels like he belongs. You know, when you first come up you don’t know where you fit in. He comes up this time, his confidence is through the roof."
McDowell said Reyes was "very, very aggressive."
"When we broke camp there were guys who were here last year that were going to be in Richmond," McDowell said.
"We’ve had some injuries, so the ability of those guys to come in and stick and fill a need was vital."
Reyes said he felt more comfortable after struggling to control his adrenaline last year.
"I’ve been here before, so I’m kind of getting used to it now," Reyes said.
The Braves led only 2-1 on a double by Jones in the first and Yunel Escobar’s single in the fifth before sending 10 batters to the plate in the big seventh inning.