ATLANTA -- After spending the past six weeks adjusting to what he has frequently called bullpen life, Tyrell Jenkins will attempt to take advantage of the opportunity to begin the season's second half as a member of the Braves' starting rotation.
Jenkins will make his second career Major League start on Tuesday against the Reds in Cincinnati. His only previous start was an emergency assignment the Braves gave him after Julio Teheran was scratched from his outing against the Phillies during the final week before the All-Star break.
"I feel really confident," Jenkins said. "I'm excited about going into Cincy on Tuesday. Hopefully, I can get my first win because Wednesday is my birthday, and that would be a good birthday present. But whether I get the win or not, I'm just going to go out there, compete and try to put us in the best position to win."
The Braves are keeping an open mind about their long-term rotation plans. Aaron Blair needs more time with Triple-A Gwinnett, and Williams Perez and John Gant are both a couple of weeks away from returning from the disabled list. Thus, it only made sense to fill the final rotation spot with a prospect like Jenkins instead of a Minor League journeyman like Joel De La Cruz.
"This is a young kid, and we just need to get him some innings," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Whether or not he ends up as a starter or a reliever, he just needs to pitch. We'll get him out there for his next start and then build from there."
Jenkins ranks as the Braves' seventh-best prospect according to MLB.com. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 2.96 ERA over the nine starts he made before he was transitioned to Triple-A Gwinnett's bullpen at the end of May. Talent evaluators have suggested Jenkins best profiles as a reliever because of the fact that he has not yet developed a strong third pitch to complement his fastball and slider.
After reluctantly making the transition, Jenkins was at least encouraged to receive his first call to the Majors two weeks later. He has allowed at least two runs in two of the four relief appearances he made for Atlanta.
Jenkins showed some of his competitive nature when he limited the Phillies to one run over 4 2/3 innings while making that emergency start on July 6. Given that he has thrown more than 50 pitches just twice since May 29, the Braves will closely monitor his pitch count while giving him a chance to prove he can be an effective starter.
"Being in the bullpen helped me get my feet wet and pitch to hitters," Jenkins said. "At first, I was mostly against [the move to the bullpen] and didn't really like it. But it got me here. I had my struggles and some success. It gave me a chance to work every day with [pitching coach Roger McDowell] and get things flowing in the right direction."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.