Predicting the Pitching Rotation

(Curtis Compton/AJC)

As we get closer and closer to the regular season, some things have become more clear. We understand the basics: Ronald Acuña is going to be great, Freddie Freeman can still hit the ball, and most importantly, spring training games do not matter that much. However, the stats from spring training can still tell us some things. We know that Ryan Schimpf is not going to make the major league roster. We can also gather that some of our pitchers are improving their game from last season. While everything is subject to change, the pitching rotation has 4 out of 5 spots secured, and impressibly secured, at that. So let’s get to it.

#1: Julio Teherán

Teherán is in the “innocent until proven guilty” stage right now. Unless he shows significant decline, he is going to remain the Braves’ number one guy. Their ace. Nobody on the roster, to date, has given him much competition for the “ace” spot in the rotation. Not only that, so far this spring, Teherán has shown great improvement with his slider when comparing it to last year. His ERA last spring was 2.81. So far this year, it is 1.29, and he has looked unbeatable. In 14 innings, he has allowed just 2 runs, and it getting more double plays (and double play opportunities) than he got last spring. As long as he can keep his slider this year in the Braves second year at Suntrust Park, he will return to the same ace that we knew back in 2014, the year he posted a 2.89 ERA, the lowest of his career.

#2: Mike Foltynewicz

So far this spring, Foltynewicz has been absolutely lights-out. He has pitched 14 innings and been phenomenal in his 4 outings, allowing just 3 hits and no runs (!!). This is easily the best year of his career, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he steps his game up this year. As usual, we have our worries about his temper in-game, but it appears as though he is getting it under control. He will start the year as the number 2 guy for the Braves but is going to be a very valuable piece to the Braves rotation this year. If both Foltynewicz and Teherán can continue the trend they are on and go deep into games, it will be a huge aid to our bullpen and the entire team.

#3: Brandon McCarthy

McCarthy was involved in the Matt Kemp trade and is coming off a season where most of it was spent sidelined due to injury. He has only pitched 6.2 innings so far this spring but has been effective in those innings. Posting much better numbers during spring training than any other year on record, McCarthy could be a wild-card piece for the Braves rotation that really could help them become a contender this year. He is a veteran, which means his presence will not only be seen on the field but felt in the locker room as well. Or he might have an average year, posting a 4-5 ERA and just help us until we have money to spend in FA next winter. Either way, he will likely be the number 3 guy for the Braves this year.

#4: Sean Newcomb

Coming off his rookie season, and an average one at that, most of his problems were with his control. This has always been an issue for him. Not enough strikes and too many balls, which led him to too many walks. That really ended up hurting him, though he looked very impressive at times. This spring, he has done a much better job throwing strikes and has had the best spring of his career, as well. If he can continue to improve his control, he will be another great addition and could fight for a higher spot in the rotation for years to come.

#5: Max Fried

Under normal circumstances, I would have to go with Luiz Gohara, however, due to his recent ankle injury, he probably will not be ready to go for the opening day rotation. Of course, once he is healthy, I imagine he will be added to the rotation in the 5th spot. If it isn’t Fried, it could be Blair, Kazmir, or Sims. All have played some in the majors, none of them have been very effective in spring training or the majors. Kazmir has been the best of the four but is also the oldest of them all. I believe the Braves will go with the best of the younger three players in Max Fried until Gohara is ready to join the rotation.

Think the rotation will be different? Feel free to comment below!

Andrew Carter @AndrewC_Braves

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