With Shelby Miller traded away this winter, the Braves are down to only one really proven starter. Of course, I’m sure Shelby has to be happy moving to a team which has a legitimate chance of allowing for him to improve on his won/loss percentages.
Projected number one will be Julio Teheran. Julio has experienced steady growth as a hurler since being promoted to the big club some four years ago. He now has three plus pitches although his slider can be a little cranky, especially with an umpire with a strike zone the size of a postage stamp. Hopefully Tyler Flowers reputation as a good pitch framer will pay dividends for the Braves when paired with the young Panamanian.
The projected number two looks to be young Matt Wisler. Matt would likely be a number four or five on a contending club but with the rebuilding of the team, he will have to take his lumps as he grows into a real big league pitcher. He has shone he has the ability to be stellar at times but young pitchers always experience problems in their early years building consistency.
Bud Norris will fill the roll of seasoned veteran for a very young staff, if he proves he still has something left, I expect him to be used in the three slot. Hopefully, pitching coach Roger McDowell can help him return to the form he showed three years ago and not the guy who has been constantly shelled the past two seasons.
The four and five spots will be up for grabs among a bevy of young arms or possible one of the free agents singed to minor league contracts. Either Jhoulys Chacin or Kyle Kendrick who both have major league experience but are coming off down years due to injuries.
Jhoulys Chacin was released by the Diamond Backs last fall after coming up through the Rockies organization. While he is somewhat of a longshot to make the team out of spring training, he will certainly get an opportunity to make the staff. He has spent the majority of his career in the minor leagues but performed well last fall for the DBacks when given a chance going 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five appearances, four starts. If not used as a started, he has been effective as a right handed reliever.
Kyle Kendrick is another right hander who is trying to make a comeback. He has spent the majority of his career with the Phillies before pitching for the Colorado Rockies last season. Again, the Braves signed him more as cheap insurance than as a sure fire back end of the rotation started. He will have an opportunity to make the team if the Braves feel their young prospects need more time in the minors.
Manny Buanuelos and Mike Foltynewics both had off season surgery
this fall. ManBam had bone chips removed from a troublesome elbow and Foltynewics had a more serious procedure which removed part of a rib which was suspected to be causing blood clots to form. Baseball has become a year round sport as far as conditioning is concerned. We will have to wait and see if there are any lingering effects for either of these two pitchers.
While Williams Perez will not be at the top of anyone’s fantasy league picks, he has a chance to make this season’s starting staff. While he did not possess blow them away stuff, he was not exactly horrible either. He will be on the bubble to begin the season with Atlanta but he is still pretty young. He is not blessed with a 97 mph fastball but he does have a good idea of how to pitch. He may only serve as a place holder for some of the Braves more highly touted young arms but he will have as good a chance as anyone to make the team as a number five/ long relief pitcher to begin the season.
I will talk about some of the projected relievers on my next post.