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Will Tim Hudson be back for Opening Day?
Tim Hudson (RHP), Jair Jurrjens (RHP), Tommy Hanson (RHP), Brandon Beachy (RHP), Mike Minor (LHP)
Veteran Tim Hudson is projected to be the top starter for the Braves, however, he is coming off offseason back surgery and may not be ready to start the season.
With the Braves pitching depth, it wouldn't hurt if they brought him back slowly but the team needs him for the bulk of the season. Hudson has won 181 games in his career, including 33 over the past two seasons, and has the experience needed when starting big games. He's not a true ace, but he's a strong pitcher and a leader in the clubhouse.
Jurrjens was among the best pitchers in all of baseball in the first half last season, but then battled through injuries in the second half before being shut down. Jurrjens expects to be healthy to start the year, but don't expect him to pitch as well as he did last year, though, he will still likely have a strong year.
Hanson was looking like an All-Star in the first half last year, but that's when he also suffered an injury that slowed him down in the second half before getting shut down early. He didn't undergo surgery on his shoulder, but there are some questions about his health going into 2012 anyway. His health is very important as he is among the top young pitchers in all of baseball when he is healthy.
Beachy had a strong rookie season last year, going 7-3 with a 3.68 ERA over 25 starts. He will enter his second season at 25 years old and is expected to continue improving. He also missed some time last year due to injury, but doesn't have any health questions like the other guys in the rotation. He's among the best No. 4 starters in the game.
Minor went 5-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 15 starts last year, but it was his performance down the stretch that opened some eyes. The former first-round pick went 1-1 with a 3.67 ERA in five September starts as the Braves pushed him into a rotation spot when Hanson and Jurrjens went down, He is the front-runner for the final rotation spot, and will be worth watching over the course of a full season.
If health issues pop up with Hudson, Jurrjens or Hanson, the Braves have some of the top prospects in the game.
Julio Teheran went 15-3 with a 2.55 ERA at age 20 in Triple-A last year, and has shown why he is among the Top 10 prospects in the game.
Randall Delgado went 1-1 with a 2.83 ERA in seven starts down the stretch for the Braves last season, and would have a rotation spot locked up in almost any other organization.
Then Arodys Vizcaino, who showed an electric arm in the bullpen late last year, could return to Triple-A as a starter this year and be close to starting in the big leagues.
The Braves have one of the best rotations in the game, although there are some real questions. I ranked them above the Nationals rotation because they have the experience that Washington lacks at this point.