The unpredictable nature of Major League Baseball never lets us down early in the season.
It was only a couple months ago that the Atlanta Braves were nearing the end of spring training and questioning a struggling offense that had seemingly carried over from the previous season.
Those offensive concerns hit a fever pitch among Braves fans during a four-game losing streak to start the season where, outside a four-run seventh inning in the series finale against the New York Mets, the Atlanta offense was able to manage just six runs through 35 innings.
Since that stretch, Atlanta has become one of the best offensive teams in MLB, ranking fourth overall in runs scored (217).
The expected strength of the team on paper heading into the season was the quality and depth of the starting pitching.
Outside of Brandon Beachy’s major league leading 1.77 ERA, that pitching has been neither quality nor deep and any value Jair Jurrjens had on the trade market this winter is all but gone.
After posting a 9.37 ERA and allowing more walks (10) than strikeouts (8) in four games in Atlanta to start the season, Jurrjens' demotion to the minor leagues appeared to be semi-productive until he allowed 11 runs in his last outing.
With all the progress Mike Minor had shown in spring training and even into early-April, he has given up 31 runs in 26.2 innings pitched during his last five starts.
He has also surrendered 11 home runs in that time, including back-to-back-to-back on Monday night versus the Cincinnati Reds.
Julio Teheran’s struggles in the spring were well documented, and although he has pitched better for Triple-A Gwinnett this season, he has not performed at the elite level his prospect status would indicate.
Still only 21 years old, it’s doubtful the Braves would promote Teheran to the big leagues until September, and even then a bullpen role is his most likely destination.
Braves general manager Frank Wren had tested the trade waters during the offseason to no avail after most of the responses included a request for one of the untradeable arms in the farm system as part of a return package.
With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline still in the distance, Atlanta will continue to hope Minor and Jurrjens will be able to work through their issues to provide quality innings at some point.
In the meantime, what are some of the options the Braves front office could pursue at the trade deadline if those results don’t change?