Well, the 2015 season is underway and the first couple of weeks have held forth a few surprises. I guess the biggest being the departure of fan favorite and closer extraordinaire, Craig Kimbrel. Less than 24 hours before the start of the season, Kimbrel was sent to San Diego along with some heavy baggage formerly known as B;J Upton who’s play was so bad, he felt the need to change his name thinking he could fool the fans in Atlanta into believing a new player had been acquired.
So, a few additional faces we had not had a chance to discuss. Trevor Cahill, a former All-Star who has apparently lost his way since undergoing hip surgery. Mechanics are a funny thing for a major league pitcher, the least little thing can cause him to become a complete Jeckyl and Hyde act. Coming to Atlanta the final week of spring training for a minor league outfielder and a deep discount on his 12 million dollar salary. Trevor did not look at all comfortable in his first start but perhaps like Matt Latos of the Marlins who was shelled by the Braves in his first start, he can come around to the point he can become somewhat of an innings eater. We will know soon enough I suspect.
Eric Stults also made the team. Originally slated as a fifth starter, he moved up a slot with the continued problems experienced by Mike Minor and his balky shoulder. The Braves will continue to hope Stults can be an effective back end of the rotation guy but I do not see the Braves going too deep into the season with him in the line up if Stults continues to struggle. I look for the Braves to turn to another one of their late spring acquisition, Matt Wisler. The 22 year old right hander who came along with Cameron Maybin from San Diego for Kimbrel and Melvin Upton. The young rightie has a high ceiling and appears far ahead of the Brave other wunderkin Mike Foltynewicz. Perhaps the Braves will score a trifecta win with Wisler, Folty and Lucas Sims by the time they move into their new digs north of Atlanta. For sure, the good folks in Gwinnett should take avantage to see these kids develop while parking and seating is cheap. I should also mention Manny Banuelos is another possibility if he can return to his pre Tommy John form. Like I said, mechanics are very important and is often the difference in a weak grounder to short or a 400 foot big fly.
The only real questions for the Braves will be if they can maintain the knack they have shone early on for staying focused in the field and continuing to put up good at bats. Not everyone on this season’s team is hitting over .300 but most every one of the hitters at putting up good at bats. There have been very few three strike at bats by the Braves hitter. Now, they have shone a few chinks in their armor to date but it’s been a fun ride so far. Still, the Braves are getting very little respect from the talking heads who are covering the sport on a professional basis. Can’t say that I blame them after the Braves made them look foolish last season. Besides, teams that tear down to the studs are not suppose to win. I guess the players did not get that memo….
By the way, I would be remiss if I did not mention my new favorite pitcher for the Braves, reliever Cody Martin. Love that kid. Cannot throw a 95 mph fastball but he can throw strikes and opposing hitters are not having much success against his Madduxess 90 mph cutter. He may be the one that Braves Country is glad didn’t get away.