There are many reasons the Atlanta Braves sit near or at the top of the National League East halfway through the 2018 MLB season, but one of them is the way Dan Winkler has mowed down batters out of the bullpen.

  The 28-year-old right-hander has finished five games for the first-place Braves this year, and he's appeared in 38 others. Over that stretch, he's allowed just thirteen earned runs for an ERA of 3.00, all while striking out 72 in 57 innings. And his 1.03 WHIP has bolstered the reliever corps of a team with eyes on its first postseason trip in five years.

  If it weren't for a season of depending on God, however, Winkler may never have ascended to his current role.

  "I had to lean on God," he told Jason Romano on the Sports Spectrum podcast. "I had to lean on Him because I didn't know what was going to happen ... (or) if I was going to play again."

  Faith, then, was Winkler's cure for overcoming an injury-riddled start to his Braves career. After a Tommy John surgery with the Colorado Rockies, he was taken by Atlanta in the Rule 5 Draft, only to visit the disabled list and later fracture his elbow in April 2016. But trust in God, which followed a full embrace of his Christian beliefs as an up-and-coming major leaguer, helped paved his way to health and, now, fortitude within the Braves bullpen.