A few days ago, I previewed the likely top five in the Braves’ starting rotation on Opening Day. Here are other starting pitchers who could see action later in the year:
Stats: 81 IP, 5-5, 2.00 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 68 K
From Opening Day, Brandon Beachy bettered his fantastic rookie campaign by pitching like a true ace (he led the N.L. in ERA when he went down) before suffering what was initially reported as a partial tear in his right elbow. That bad news only got worse when Dr. James Andrews became involved. On June 21, 2012, Beachy underwent â€œsuccessfulâ€ Tommy John surgery (uh, how do they know?) and the clock started ticking. Twelve months is an aggressive schedule. 14 is more conservative. An August return is likely, and he will displace whoever is stinking up the joint (cough..Hanson). Having a guy like Beachy coming back mid season is an unbelievable luxury. Fantastic stuff. He and Medlen should be the Braves 1 and 2 starters for some time. Eligible for arbitration first time in 2014.
Stats: 93 IP, 4-9, 4.37 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 76 K
Began the year with the fifth starter job, beating out the favorite Julio Teheran, and didnâ€™t embarrass himself. He was, however, inconsistent, and that was enough to send him back to Gwinnett to make room for Sheets. Won his first two, lost his next five. Heâ€™ll be back, but possibly not with the Braves. He throws 94, and heâ€™s still young and green. The few starts of his that I saw showed a very promising but immature pitcher subject to either lapses of concentration or bad luck, or both. He can play. I think he projects as a No. 3 starter with a high propensity for strikeouts. He is, however, Trade Bait for the Braveâ€™s other needs, i.e., a stud outfielder. Of the two young guns, I still would rather have Teheran stay and deal Delgado. Thank God Ryan Dempster is a freaking crybaby.
Stats: 48.1 IP, 2-3, 6.89 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, 19 K
What happened to Jair? Jair was one of my favorite recent Braves, but arm troubles have been his chronic bane and now seem to have ended his career. Another 26 year old–I just canâ€™t see him coming back. He did not fare well at Gwinnett either, going 4-6 with a 4.98 ERA. Nonetheless, if you want hope, here it is: Jurrjenâ€™s ERAs since 2008 are 3.68, 2.60, 4.64, 2.96, 6.89. If the pattern held, 2013 would be another solid year for JJ. I donâ€™t think it will. I expect him to be non-tendered and sign with a small-market club. I wish him well, but heâ€™s not in our future.
Stats: 6.1 IP, 5.68 ERA, 0.947 WHIP, 5 K
Hey–remember this guy? He was considered the top pitching prospect in all of baseball. In spring training the fifth spot was considered his to lose, and lose it he did, to Delgado. I wrote up Teheran separately, and you can read that here. Suffice it to say that one bad spring training in 2012 does not erase that promise. Heâ€™s a stud hoss, and he will be very, very good very, very soon. I expect him to join the rotation for good in 2014 when Hudson, Hanson, and/or Maholm leave. He will fulfill his promise, I would wager. I hope he doesnâ€™t get dealt for an outfielder, but it is a distinct possibility.
Once again, the Braves suffer from an embarrassment of riches in starting pitching. In the glorious 90s, the then-current wisdom was that the Braves pitching system was due in large part to the tutelage of Bruce Dal Canton at Myrtle Beach (some said Johnny Sain too, but he wasnâ€™t there that long). While Bruce is no longer with us, we continue to produce pitchers, pitchers, pitchers. It has to be the scouting. The Braves have long relied on non-Moneyball, old fashioned scouting eyes to draft young pitchers, usually out of high school, and starting inculcating them with the Braves pitching philosophy before they get â€œruinedâ€ by college coaches.
The Bravesâ€™ scouting-heavy philosophy is one that the Nationals have adopted wholeheartedly; the lightning rise of that team is directly related to their willingness to pay scouts for their shoe leather (and pay the prospects the scouts find whatever money Scott Boras asks for.)
My WAG for the future?
Braves 2014 Rotation
- Hudson (one year deal)
Braves 2015 Rotation
- Sean Gilmartin
Post scriptum: First, thanks to my son Alex for his contributions to this analysis. I am very fortunate to have someone to pass the torch to that my grandfather passed to me in 1967. (He actually was an usher at Atlanta Crackers games. My grandfather, not Alex.) Alex has been reading the Braves Journal religiously (Braves are considered a religion in my house) since he was nine, and he loved Macâ€™s humor and insights, frequently quoting to me Macâ€™s latest bon mots. I think Mac probably formed his view of the Braves as much as I did, and probably molded his sense of humor as well. We usually refer to the Braves by whatever nomenclature Mac awarded them: the Lisp, the Vulture, O’Ventbrel, etc.
When Mac died, I was unable to formulate the proper words to join the online mourning. I knew Mac since the mid-90s, online in Compuserve (!) baseball forums, and when he started Braves Journal, I was one of the first readers he invited to the new site. I never met him in person, though I repeatedly invited him to attend Nats-Braves games that he was never able to make. I should have posted something at the time of his death, but just couldnâ€™t bear to do it.
This is a great monument to Macâ€™s life. I honor AAR and others for keeping the flame alive.