While the Atlanta Braves collapse of 2011 was a collective team effort, key injuries to the rotation and an overworked bullpen were major factors.
The loss of starters Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens to injuries forced the hand of manager Fredi Gonzalez to call upon rookies Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran.
The trickle-down effect of using rookies in the rotation means less innings pitched from the starter, which causes the bullpen to get overworked, as David O’Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests.
Moving past those late season struggles into what has been a silent off-season to date, the best medicine for a Braves fan base wondering what could have been is to look ahead to the upcoming 2012 season—which brings with it the optimism of a healthy pitching staff.
To help smooth the transition into 2012, here is a look at the Braves projected pitching staff with a least valuable to most indispensable feel. Included are projections by ZiPS and Bill James (via FanGraphs).