This has been on my mind for the last week or so and I really wanted to address it with other Braves fans or baseball fans in general who might be reading this.
The Atlanta Braves are all about young pitching right? They have a ton of talent in their rotation that’s built towards the future and we should be set for a long time right? When you hear about the Braves pitching assets you hear names like Teheran, Delgado, Beachy and Minor. Those guys all have a ton of talent but I think that we’re forgetting something here.
What about the original corner stones of this rotation? Yes, I’m talking about Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens who are both by the way only 25 years old. These guys have not developed into solid aces yet but I think because of the young stable of pitchers we do have they seem to be getting old quick. These guys are 25 years old which is extremely young. Most teams would kill to have 2 guys with their talent level and at their ages in their rotation.
Last year before the All-Star break these guys were ranked #1 and #4 in ERA for the National League. They were the biggest part of the Braves success last year and it was their injuries that really took this team down a dangerous path. Yes we should have still won the Wild Card despite their injuries but if these guys had stayed healthy and continued to pitch to that level, this team was a serious contender to compete for a spot in the World Series. They battled the Phillies tooth and nail the entire first half of the season and really showed that they were a top notch ball club, despite the offense that did basically nothing to help them.
If Jurrjens and Hanson can come back healthy (which I know IF is the key word) then they should be considered the corner stones of this rotation. Then you add Hudson the veteran to the mix, Brandon Beachy and either Teheran or Minor. My preference personally would be Teheran. That’s a very solid rotation that can get the job done, especially if the offense is starts to actually click a little bit.
I’m all for making a move this off season, personally I think that we need another bat in the outfield. Prado is more moveable then Jurrjens is and I say that we could couple him with a prospect if need be. The bat that we need to obtain doesn’t have to be a superstar guy, it just has to be someone who can drive in some runs. Most likely this new player will hit 6th or 7th anyways.
With guys like Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward we should have plenty of offense if these guys play up to their potential. Then we talk about guys like Bourn and Pastornicky at the top of the order and we have a pretty solid line up that should be able to push across some runs.
I really like Medlen in the bullpen because he’s a guy who can go out and pitch an inning or two on back to to back days without an issue. His back round as a starter will help him with endurance which would be huge for this bullpen. The big 3 in the back end of the pen should be lights out again this year and I’m thinking that this team should have a chance to compete.
I’m just afraid that if you take Jurrjens out of the rotation that you will have to throw Beachy, Minor and Teheran out there every 5th day which gives us very little experience, coupled with the health issues of Hudson and Hanson. I’m leaning towards keeping Jurrjens and moving Prado. I really do think that’s the better way to go. Unless moving Jurrjens can bring a serious middle of the order bat to Atlanta but I really don’t see that happening.
With all the young talent within the system I think that we’ve lost sight in what we have with Jurrjens and Hanson. If you asked anyone 2 years ago who the future of the staff was, it was without question Tommy Hanson. He was the Braves prized possession as far as arms go. If these guys come back healthy then we have 2/5 of the rotation set for a very long time. Hudson gives us 3/5 of the rotation covered for next season and now we fill out the final 2/5 with a combination of Beachy, Teheran, Minor or Delgado. That’s quote a quartet to choose from in my opinion not to mention it gives us flexibility in case of injury.
I realize when something new comes a long we tend to gravitate to it but let’s not forget about the old here. And in this case the “old” is a pair of 25 year old pitchers who have proven they can get it done at the big league level.
By: Bob McVinua