Category: Rotation

Are The Braves Staring At “Would Have” “Could Have” “Should Have” In Their Rotation?

Everyone who reads my blog knows I hate to over load you guys with stats so I will try to keep them at a minimum for this article. Stats tend to bore people and frankly sometimes I get bored researching them. So what’s on the agenda today? Well with the recent injury of Brandon Beachy I think it would only be suitable that we discuss pitching.

The Braves rotation has been less then stellar this year with the exception of Beachy who is now headed to the D.L with an elbow issue. One would assume that he’ll miss 2-3 starts over the 2 week period. With the Braves “pitching rich” organization this should be no issue right? Lots of young arms available to plug into the rotation, so why then are Braves fans so worried?

The issue in Atlanta is that potential doesn’t always generate results. When dealing with youthful pitchers you must allow for a learning curve and the acceptance that things may not work out the way you wanted them to. This is something that fears me in regards to Frank Wren. I thought last year his move to NOT go after Carlos Beltran turned out to be a great one. Beltran was a half year rental for the Giants who missed the playoffs and lost a great pitching prospect of their own in return. All for what? Nothing really. So I applaud Wren for not pulling the trigger in that situation. By doing that he kept the young Braves arms intact and allowed for another year of development.

However now we need to reevaluate the current situation from a year a go. Brandon Beachy turned into an absolute stud. Even if his ERA went up a full run per 9 innings he’d still have a very solid 3.00era. If he could keep his era down in the 2.00’s even better because that would really establish him as a solid front of the rotation type pitcher. So Beachy was an absolute home run for the Braves assuming that he can stay healthy and on the same track.

Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Teheran still have yet to make a full break through. They’ve all shown some signs of brilliance but still haven’t been able to pitch up to the level of a Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy or Tim Hudson and here’s the thing. It’s FINE, it’s PERFECTLY FINE that they are not top of the rotation studs. Prospects are a very tricky part of sports, sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t.

And to be honest with you I think as Braves fans if we have a rotation that’s made out of 2/5 or 3/5 of our farm system pitching we should be very pleased with that because a lot of teams aren’t even that fortunate. If at the end of the day we ended up with Hanson, Beachy and either Teheran or Delgado or Minor at the back end we should pleased with that. It was not at all a failure in development.

Now if Wren thought that all these guys; Minor, Beachy, Teheran, Delgado and Vizcaino would ALL become number one type starters he was living in a fantasy world. I don’t think this is the case at all, however he doesn’t want to hang onto these guys for too long if they aren’t panning out. At the end of the day baseball is like any other business and when you have assets that appear to be valuable you don’t want them to sit there until they’re worthless.

The trade deadline is quickly approaching as time to me feels like it’s going by faster and faster with each passing week. So the end of July will be here before we know it. Now the worst deal a team can make is a half year rental, especially if it involves dealing away major prospects.

The other thing the Braves should keep in mind is that they will have money to spend next season with Chipper and McCann’s contracts coming to a close. So if they were to trade for a starting pitcher that is due to be a free agent at the end of this season they would have some money set a side to lock him up if both sides could come to an agreement.

Tim Lincecum: Yes I’m talking about the 2 time Cy Young award winner and a former World Series Champion. Yes he has a 2-8 record so far this season but as you recall this article is not about stats. Is Lincecum’s problem physical? Is it mental? I’ve seen no evidence of real injury this season so I suspect that some of it could be mechanics or just that maybe he’s growing out of San Fran. It happens. Players sometimes need a change of scenery to get them turned around. Matt Cain is the apparent new ace for the Giants and that’s likely not going to sit well with Lincecum. The Giants love young pitching and the Braves have plenty of it. With the pressure of the fan base to trade Lincecum growing more intense by the day they Giants may feel the heat to try and move their former ace for a reasonable price tag. Yes, Lincecum’s stats are terrible this year but no one can tell me that the 28 year old 2 time Cy Young award winner is out of gas. He still has plenty left and may just need a new coaching staff to bring out the better side of him.

Matt Garza: Another 28 year old starter that could possibly be on the move. The Cubs are almost in total rebuilding mode at this point. Clearly their current roster just isn’t working as they are dead last and on pace to have one of the worst seasons in Cubs history. So what does the new management team of the Cubs do? It’s likely that they start trading away pieces of the current team to try and attract younger talent that can turn this thing around. Matt Garza has shown some flashes of brilliance while in Chicago and could really help the Braves down the stretch.

King Felix: Everyone assumes that King Felix will be shipped to the Yankees because well the Yankees are a team with a lot of money. However we can’t always make that assumption. Does Felix Hernandez even want to pitch in New York? Cliff Lee didn’t. And it doesn’t guarantee a championship the way that it used to. The Yankees have only won 1 World Series in the past 10 years, the Marlins can say the exact same thing. Not to mention the Braves could compile a much better package of Minor League stars then the Yankees could. At the end of the day the Mariners have to get prospects in return to try and rebuild their organization. Why not start the process with guys like Mike Minor or Julio Teheran? I would give up both of those guys for a front of the line starter like Hernandez. Yes, his stats are down slightly this year but a LOT of that has to do with lack of run support in Seattle and the frustration of being on a losing team every single year. A rotation of Felix Hernandez, Tim Hudson, Brandon Beachy, Tommy Hanson and Randall Delgado could almost guarantee the Braves a trip to the post season and with those guys they’d be very tough to beat in a 5 or 7 game playoff series.

Final Note: With the new playoff format it could pay off greatly to have added depth in the rotation. If the Braves were to land one of the two Wild Card spots they would be forced to use their #1 starter in a 1 game playoff. This would obviously make him unavailable to start game 1 or 2 of the N.L.D.S. If the Braves were to add a quality starter they could throw Beachy or Hudson in the one game playoff (or the newly acquired starter) and still be able to stack 3 solid starters together for the N.L.D.S. This would be a big advantage over a lot of other teams in the National League.

By: Bob McVinua

 

Braves Having Difficulty Finding Balance

In today’s game so much emphasis is put on offense. Fans want to see their teams putting up crooked numbers on the score board as often as possible. Braves fans experienced a major offensive drought to end the 2011 season which lead to what was one of the worst collapses in Major League Baseball history. Time after time the Braves just couldn’t score runs and it made it nearly impossible to win games.

This year seems to be a much different story. Sure there’s been a few games here and there where the team has struggled to find offense but over all we have very little to complain about. The Braves have been one of the more impressive offensive teams this season as you can see where they rank in the following categories.

RUNS: 142 (1st in MLB)

HITS: 250 (3rd in MLB)

HR: 29 (8th in MLB)

RBI: 137 (1st in MLB)

SB: 21 (6th in MLB)

AVG: .267 (5th in MLB)

OBP: .329 (10th in MLB)

SLG: .418 (9th in MLB)

As you can see the Braves rank in the top 10 in pretty much every offensive category. That’s very impressive if you ask me. To be in the top 10 in both HR and SB. To be in the top 10 in AVG and SLG. They have all bases covered with a very balanced offensive attacked.

However on the other side of the ball, the pitching staff hasn’t been quite as impressive. As you can see where they rank in some of the more important pitching stats.

ERA: 4.33 (23rd in MLB)

HITS: 253 (29th in MLB)

AVG: .275 (27th in MLB)

WHIP: 1.41 (25th in MLB)

RUNS: 124 (24th in MLB)

So as you can the Braves rank in the bottom 3rd of the league in 5 of the most important pitching stats. Is this cause for concern? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s only May 5th so the pitchers have plenty of time to settle down and get into a grove but right now it appears that it’s the offense that’s carrying this team, not the pitching. A much different story from what we experienced last year.

Below are the current stats for each member of the Braves current rotation and also the stats posted by Jair Jurrjens

Beachy: 2-1 with a 1.38era

Delgado: 2-3 with a 5.14era

Jurrjens: 0-2 with a 9.37era

Hanson: 3-2 with a 3.74era

Hudson: 1-0 with a 6.55era

Minor: 2-2 with a 4.68era

Right now you would have to label Beachy the unofficial “ace” of this staff. With Hudson still coming back from a back injury and Hanson still trying to settle in. Minor has shown flashes of brilliance but has yet to put it together for a string of consecutive starts. Jurrjens struggled so badly that he had to be moved down to AAA where he appears to be getting back on track. Delgado is shaky at best with his 5.14era but every start he puts under his belt should lead to him getting a little bit better.

Now this staff could transform into an elite staff very quickly. Don’t get me wrong. However if the numbers continue to stay in this neighborhood for each starter then you would have to think that Frank Wren will consider making a move at the deadline. All off season we wanted to see a move for a bat and I was no exception. But with the offense ranking in the top 10 in all major offensive categories you have to think that they will be alright going forward, especially with the depth that the line up possesses.

Adding another veteran arm to the rotation could be a good idea. Derek Lowe gave us that presence during the 2010 season where he basically carried the pitching staff for the entire month of Sept. Unfortunately Lowe completely fell apart on us last year and we had to part ways with him but would an experienced arm in the rotation benefit our playoff chances?

Here are some guys we could consider going after. Now keep in mind that Frank Wren won’t likely sell the farm for an elite ace and we won’t be able to obtain a pitcher from another team in the thick of a playoff race unless we give them players who will be of immediate benefit which I also see as an unlikely scenario.

Eric Bedard:

A 33 year old starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Currently pitching to the tune of a 2-4 record but don’t let that deceive you. Bedard has posted an impressive 2.65era thus far and has been the victim of poor run support. His walk to strikeout ratio is also pretty impressive as he’s struck out 37 and has only walked 14. It’s unlikely that the Pirates will be in the playoffs race come July as I expect the Cardinals to pull way out in front by that point. So it’s possible he could be available. He’s also a lefty which would give us a 2nd left hander to compliment Mike Minor.

Ryan Dempster:

I’m staying in the N.L Central as I zoom in on the “ace” of the Chicago Cubs. Dempster is 35 years old so he certainly brings a veteran presence to the mound. He’s 0-1 thus far but like Bedard has been a victim of poor run support. A guy who has posted a 0.95era should have at least one win but that’s just my opinion. This is another guy with an impressive walk/strikeout ratio at 29-9. The Cubs have struggled thus far and I don’t see them having that big of a turn around over the next few months. Would they be willing to trade Dempster for a couple of prospects?

Brandon McCarthy:

Switching over to the A.L now, this is another pitcher that I think could help bolster our rotation down the stretch. McCarthy will turn 29 in July just a few weeks before the trade deadline so he certainly has a better age angle then the other two pitchers I’ve mentioned. McCarthy is 2-3 but still holds an impressive ERA of 2.96. The A’s offense isn’t exactly explosive so he’s isn’t the beneficiary of outstanding run support by any means. Texas appears to be the clear cut favorite to win the A.L West and I doubt the A’s have enough to compete for one of those 2 Wild Card Spots. They have unloaded guys such as Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez for prospects to attempt to rebuild so McCarthy might be the next to go.

Let me know of some other names that you guys think could be of interest to Frank Wren and the Braves. I’d love to hear some feedback.

 

By: Bob McVinua

 

 

JJ Heads To AAA

Generally it’s a very unusual sight to see your #2 pitcher in your rotation get optioned down to AAA before the first day in May but that’s exactly what happened to Jair Jurrjens. Now I say #2 pitcher loosely as we still need to see how Hudson does in his return which should hopefully be by the end of this month. Fredi Gonzalez has made mention of April 29th or the 30th against Pittsburgh for being Hudson’s return to the rotation. Which as a side note is a nice time to bring him back as the Pirates are severely struggling to score runs right now. Might be a good chance for Hudson to get settled in and have a nice first start.

However the issue at hand isn’t about Tim Hudson. Jair Jurrjens has been a big disappointment to many this season. He’s currently 0-2 with a 9.37era. That just isn’t going to get it done for any team, any where never mind a team that’s trying to contend for a division title. Does all of this surprise me? Honestly, yes and no.

Does the fact that Jurrjens is struggling out of the gate surprise me? Not entirely and it really shouldn’t be a complete shock to anyone else either. This blog is not about throwing a ton of stats at you. However in certain circumstances stats are the best way to prove a point and paint a clear picture. That’s why stats are so coveted around sports.

Jair Jurrjens pitched through the month of Aug and that was as far as he went last year before going on the disabled list for the entire month of Sept. In the month of Aug 2011 he pitched to the tune of a 1-3 record with a 6.17era. That’s really the last memories we have of Jurrjens. He hasn’t pitched into the 7th inning of any game since the Braves played the Pirates on July 27th 2011. So it’s been awhile since we’ve gotten quality innings out of Jair as well.

So from that perspective I can’t say that I’m “shocked” by the results Jurrjens has posted so far this year. It’s pretty much a continuation of where he left off last year. He’s certainly lost some velocity. He’s not hitting his spots. Maybe he doesn’t completely trust that knee of his. It could be a lot of different things.

What does surprise me is that they are optioning him down so soon. Yes he’s gotten hammered and I know fans are all about instant results and don’t have any patience for struggling. But we do have 4 other quality guys in the rotation that are throwing the ball pretty well. Hanson, Beachy and Minor right now are “the big 3” of Atlanta. Delgado is 4 and Jurrjens is 5. If you aren’t happy with Jurrjens being your 5th best starter then by all means option him down, that’s what the Braves did.

By doing this they are taking immediate action which is good but they are also forcing a result. “He who hesitates is lost”, well the Braves certainly didn’t hesitate. This is now a critical part of Jurrjens career. He’s past the “babying” stage that some of the other starters are still in. You treat a 21-24 year old pitcher much differently then you do a 26 year old. However I’ve also heard the term “Braves veteran starter Jair Jurrjens” on numerous high light shows. To me this comment isn’t fair. Jurrjens is in no way shape or form a veteran pitcher. There aren’t many places where a 26 year old starter is considered a veteran but unfortunately for Jair, Atlanta is one of them. When you are 26 and the 2nd oldest pitcher on your staff that puts a little extra pressure on you. The pressure to excel your development. Jurrjens could go somewhere and be the youngest pitcher on a veteran staff. That would create a completely different out look on the situation.

Bottom line is the Braves are a pitching rich organization and with Hudson due back in less then a week there was no reason not to pull Jurrjens out of the rotation. He wasn’t giving them the best chance to win. He wasn’t pitching deep into games. He just over all wasn’t presenting the Braves with a lot of “value”.

Do I think they pulled the plug a little too soon? Yes, I do. I think they should have waited for Hudson to get back to the majors. See if his TRUE veteran presence could have affected Jurrjens in a positive way and also to see how affective he will be. The other guys in the rotation are throwing the ball well like I said, so I don’t think it would have hurt to give Jurrjens a couple of more starts. No, we don’t want a repeat of Derek Lowe but it’s still April.

Another aspect of the transaction that surprised me was how adamant Fredi Gonzalez was about keeping Jurrjens in the rotation. He had said on a few occasions that it wouldn’t be Jurrjens who would be lifted from the rotation when Hudson came back. It was almost certainly going to be Delgado.

If the move down to AAA doesn’t help Jurrjens then the Braves will most likely have to cut ties with the young right hander. He will have little to no trade value at this point and they certainly don’t have any interest in having him pitch through his struggles in the majors.

By: Bob McVinua

 

Braves Are Firing On All Cylinders

Two issues last year prevented the Braves from making a run at a World Series title. We all saw the potential this team had but wondered if they could put it all together and make a serious run at a championship. As the wheels fell off last Sept there were 2 glaring holes in this club. The lack of production from the offense and the inability of our starters to pitch deep into games, causing our bullpen to wear down.

Well currently those two issues have been corrected in grand fashion. The Braves are firing on all cylinders offensively. They’re averaging just about 7.5 runs per game over their last 7 games. Very impressive considering they started out so slow to start the season. They are doing it with a balanced attack. In my opinion the strength of the Braves line up is that it has excellent depth. 1-8 we are as good as any team in the National League.

No we don’t have a “Josh Hamilton”, “Prince Fielder” or “Matt Kemp” type player. I don’t believe anyone in our line up at the moment is capable of hitting 45 home runs and driving in 125 runs. However we don’t need them to. With our depth we can afford to have certain guys heat up and cool down throughout the season and still maintain a balanced attack. When your offense relies on just 1 or 2 guys you can’t afford to have them get injured or slump, your offense will surely slow down. Right now Freeman and Heyward are probably the two hottest hitters in the line up. Freeman hit 2 balls out of the ball park last night and Heyward continued his impressive hitting streak as it reached 9 games. Maybe next week it will be McCann and Uggla carrying the line up. You never know. However I do know this. If your offense is being compared to the Texas Rangers then you are surely doing something right.

The other thing that’s impressed me over this stretch of good play is that our pitchers continue to get deep into games. Last night Fredi called upon Johnny Venters to come into a game in which we had an 8 run lead, just to “get some work” in. When would that ever have happened last season? Never. He was forced to use Venters, Kimbrel and O’Flaherty almost every game. All 3 of them were in the top 10 in Major League Baseball for relief appearances made. That’s a lot of stress on those young arms that so far we are avoiding this season.

Speaking of the bullpen. This is another great strength of the Atlanta Braves. Not only do we have the Big 3 at the back end of the pen to close out games, we also have Kris Medlen and Livan Hernandez to give us multiple innings on multiple days each week if needed. Having those rubber arms in the pen will take a lot of stress off the guys at the back end as the season goes on. Christian Martinez has also been very solid for us this year as well.

It’s still early but you have to feel very good if you’re a Braves fan. Not only is this team built for the future but it’s also built to win right now. A luxury that most teams don’t have. They are either in a win now mode like the Yankees and Phillies. Or in a rebuilding mode like the Royals and Astros.

So I think Braves fans have a lot to look forward to this season and many seasons to come.

By: Bob McVinua

 

Pitching Rich or Digging For Gold?

The Atlanta Braves are an organization that prides themselves in their great pitching. How does the saying go? Pitching wins championships right? Well… Not always. The rotations that consisted of John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine only produced one World Series championship. Granted the the teams of that era were always very competitive as they would win 14 straight division titles, while making several trips to the fall classic itself.

Pitching to this day is still the staple of the Braves organization. Frank Wren prides himself on his young arms that consist of Minor, Beachy, Teheran and Delgado. All of those guys have great potential. The key word that I’m  going to stress here is “potential”. I’m in no way bashing any of the young arms we have in our system. There’s a chance that we could have a future ace in there. However there’s very slim chance that we are going to hit a home run on all 4 of these guys, it’s just not likely to happen.

So in a more realistic sense we’re looking at MAYBE 2 of the 4 being in the rotation for the long term. The issue that a lot of these guys have is that they are strikeout pitchers which I know fans and scouts both love. However it puts a huge burden on your pitch count and that’s why these guys have struggled to get past the 5th inning, thus straining our beloved bullpen.

The rotation that appears to be set for many years to come does have a few wrinkles in it. I’m not in any way trying to push a panic button but it’s just something that as a blogger I have to point out. Now in a few years I could be proven completely wrong but I’m not as sold on the Braves rotation as I once was. Here’s why.

To win a division title it’s going to take a 5 man rotation to get the job done. Granted there are various degrees of pitching levels, as a #1 starter should be a lot more talented then your #5 starter. However it will take a complete rotation to get it done as you will need consistency from 1-5. Lets dig a little bit deeper into the Braves rotation.

Tim Hudson: Right now he’s the ace. I won’t listen to anyone who tells me otherwise. If there’s a must win game tomorrow, I’m giving Hudson the ball and until someone else steps up he’s are guy. However he’s currently 36 years old and will turn 37 before the All-Star break of next season. How much longer can we really rely on him? Look at Derek Lowe. When you get past 35 your potential to just “lose it” happens, it’s a natural occurrence in the game of baseball. Age will catch up with you eventually. How many more years of Tim Hudson do we have left is the question. 1 or 2 more after this year?

Tommy Hanson: Hanson has a lot of talent yet he still struggles to dominate. He has a horrible time controlling base runners and every team in the National League is well aware of this. He’s coming off a serious shoulder issue, that’s not a guaranteed safe return for Mr. Hanson. Another thing is that his throwing motion is begging for further injuries down the road. If he can’t stay healthy then the Braves might have to let him go sometime in the next 2 or 3 years. It’s a proven fact that teams will not wait around forever and if Hanson can’t get it together then he will be gone.

Jair Jurrjens: After you complete this post you might think twice about trading JJ because I certainly have. Jurrjens has the ability to be dominant but again like Hanson he’s battling injuries. Health is what counts in sports, I don’t care how good you are if you can’t stay healthy. To be honest I think Jurrjens has shown more dominance in his time with the club then Hanson has. If I’m taking one or the other on the spot it’s Jurrjens without question. But Frank Wren has him on the trade block and he’s bound to get plenty of activity as he’s only 25 years old. There’s a very good chance that he could be gone in the next few weeks.

Derek Lowe: Lowe was absolutely terrible last year and I’m glad that he was traded. However he did occupy a full time rotation spot last year and his spot is now currently empty. It needs to be filled by someone immediately. Not to mention he was looked at as the non official #2 guy at the start of the season and some might have argued him to be the ace as he did pitch opening day. This takes away from our “depth” as someone will need to fill that void.

Right now as we look at the above mentioned 4 pitchers you have to be thinking the same thing that I am. NONE of them are a guaranteed part of the Braves future rotation. Not in the long term I should say. In a couple of seasons Hudson will be retired. Lowe is already gone. Jurrjens might be traded in the next couple of weeks if not days and Hanson has shoulder issues to contend with.

Minor, Beachy, Teheran and Delgado:

A ton of talent in these 4 guys. However they are not the first pitching prospects in the world to have talent and not all of them amounted to as much as teams hoped they would. Again all of these guys could end up being absolute studs, that possibility exits. However it’s not likely. Lets be realistic and say over the next 2 years, maybe 3 that we get 2 quality pitchers out of this group. They may be the only ones left out of this once deep crop of great pitching.

If Hanson doesn’t come back healthy and Jurrjens is traded you are looking at putting Beachy or Minor in the #2 spot in the rotation. That’s the same issue we had in Sept when things fell apart. I like Beachy and Minor to be worked in at 3-4 at the highest. Middle of the rotation guys right now, not ace material. It’s to no fault of their own because they lack experience but why throw them to the wolves?

Frank Wren needs to look into a guy like CJ Wilson. Trade Prado to the Tigers for Delmon Young as it has already been discussed. That gives us our power bat in left field. Use the remaining money to bring in Wilson. He’s 31 years old and wants a 5-6 year contract. That does several things for Atlanta.

Win Now: We are developing young talent in this organization which is great but we want to win now. We’re more then capable of being 90+ win team right now. The fan base doesn’t want to see us finish in 2nd place for the next 2 or 3 years. It just wont be acceptable. By saying we can develop players and not win now puts us on the same level of the Kansas City Royals. You groom players that may or may not pan out and then before you know it you can be “rebuilding” for 10 years. This is not a rebuilding team lets do the best we can to win now while developing the young guys, it’s a perfect balance.

Ease The Young Guys In: If you have Hudson and CJ Wilson in the rotation then you are looking at putting Beachy in the 3 spot or possibly the 4 spot. Minor would be 4 or 5. That’s perfect. They can get an entire season worth of work in without putting so much pressure on them to be “the guy”.

By: Bob McVinua

 

 

 

4 Aces Make A Full Deck, Right?

Sorry guys I know it’s been awhile since I lasted posted. Had to deal with hurricane Irene and her raft. We just got power back today so I’m pretty excited as you can imagine. I didn’t want to waste any time in writing a new post because I came up with a fairly interesting topic, hoping to get a strong debate going.

September starts tomorrow. This of course marks the last month of the regular season. The Braves currently have an 8.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. Making the playoffs doesn’t appear to be a huge concern right now with a solid lead in the standings with less then 30 games left to play. What does concern me just a little bit is the starting rotation. If someone said to me 2 months ago that the rotation would be the concern heading into the playoffs I would have laughed at them. At the all-star break my biggest worry was the struggling offense. As Braves fans can remember the struggling offense has been the killer for us in a lot of playoff series in the past 10 years or so.

I still believe that if this team is going to win a World Series then they will have to rely on the starting rotation. One would assume that the rotation would be Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens and Hanson, right? Well how certain can we be of that right now? Hanson is having some shoulder issues, he should be fine for the playoffs but it’s impossible to tell what kind of shape he’ll be in when he comes back. We have Lowe who is an aging veteran, he’s struggled for most of the season. Jurrjens was our ace for the entire first half but he seems to have some serous control issues as of late. Hudson is the ace RIGHT NOW, as a manager you have to live in the moment and Hudson is the guy I’d put out there right now for a game 1 of the NLDS. Then finally you have Beachy and Minor, two very talented young pitchers who would most likely lack the experience needed to win in the playoffs. Let’s take a closer look.

Tim Hudson: 13-8 with a 3.10era. That doesn’t quite tell the whole story as Hudson has slowly begun to take over this Atlanta Braves pitching staff. This is a game of “what have you done for me lately” and Hudson has been by far the best pitcher since the all-star break. He has the stuff and the experience to be a #1 starter come playoff time. I think Hudson would have to struggle badly down the stretch to get bumped down in the rotation come October.

Jair Jurrjens: He’s my #2 barring that he returns to form, or at least close to it. If Jurrjens comes any where near what he was before the all-star break then he’ll be one of the best #2 starters in the entire playoffs. Despite his recent struggles, he’s still maintaining an era of under 3.00. That’s pretty impressive considering how badly he’s been getting shelled lately. Putting him at #2 takes a little bit of pressure of him as well. Jurrjens is still a young guy and has never pitched in the post season before. Game 2 is stressful but doesn’t compare to game 1.

Tommy Hanson: A great fit for the #3 spot in this rotation. I think Hanson is the guy for the 3rd spot for 2 reasons. One he was able to get a taste of the post season last year. This will not be uncharted territory for him. There’s no way that you can leave this guy out barring his health returns, which I think it will. He can use the rest of the season to get himself back into form, a big advantage due to the fact that the Braves have such a large lead in the playoff race.

Brandon Beachy: No this is NOT a misprint or a typo. I think that Fredi Gonzalez should announce Brandon Beachy as the #4 starter. He wouldn’t even have to pitch in the NLDS and would only make 1 start in the NLCS and World Series. This kid is one of the bright spots in the rotation going forward, why not give him a chance? He’s 7-2 with a respectable 3. 31era. I think he can get the job done. He’s made 20 starts with the big league club this year and he’s proving he can pitch well. I know he lacks experience but I still believe the best arm has to be put out there.

Derek Lowe should not be left off the playoff roster. What’s his biggest issue? He can’t go deep into games. Why not put him in the bullpen? It makes perfect sense. He can come into the game and get big ground ball outs with his sinker or eat up innings if there’s a blow out, saving the other valuable arms in our pen.

The last few weeks of the season will give us a lot of information. Will Hanson come back healthy? Will Jurrjens straighten himself out? Will Hudson continue to pitch well? A lot can change in 4 weeks but right now that’s my playoff rotation for the Braves.

Let me know what your rotation would be.

By: Bob McVinua