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Atlanta Braves: One Second-Half Prediction for Each Starter

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIJuly 11, 2012

Atlanta Braves: One Second-Half Prediction for Each Starter

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    We're at the All-Star break and the Atlanta Braves are in a good position for the second half of the season.

    Currently sitting at 46-39, four games behind the Washington Nationals, the Braves are in a good position to get one of the two wild-card spots at the very least.

    Pitching, as it's been throughout Braves history, will be the story once again.

    However, the Braves are going to have to do it without Brandon Beachy, who recently had Tommy John surgery and will be out until next year.

    The biggest question mark surrounding the team is whether they will make a trade for someone like Zack Greinke or Francisco Liriano, or if they are content with their in-house guys.

    Here is one prediction for each current Braves starter.

Tim Hudson

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    Hudson has been an anchor in the Braves rotation ever since he came over in a trade from Oakland.

    He's 7-4 with a 3.56 ERA and 55 strikeouts.

    The right-hander has won three of his last four starts, with his July 1 start against Washington being the only one he'd like to take back.

    Hudson will continue to be leaned on to be the anchor in the rotation, and will be key down the stretch.

     

    Prediction

    Hudson will finish the season with 16 wins and 120 strikeouts, and will start either Game 1 of the playoffs (if the Braves win the division) or the one-game playoff in the first round.

Tommy Hanson

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    Hanson is having perhaps his best season as a Braves starter.

    Currently, he's 10-5 with 3.71 ERA and 95 strikeouts.

    He's ace No. 2 for the Braves, and has proven that all year.

    Along with Hudson, the Braves have leaned on him due to the injury to Beachy and the roller coaster performances of Mike Minor and Randall Delgado.

     

    Prediction

    Hanson will win 20 games, becoming the first Braves pitcher to do so since Russ Ortiz in 2003.

Jair Jurrjens

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    Things didn't look good for Jurrjens to begin the season. He was 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four starts.

    However, since being recalled from Triple-A, Jurrjens has won three of four starts and has only given up six total earned runs.

    For the Braves, it's coming at an important time with Beachy done for the year.

    Now, the hope is that he'll return to his 2011 first-half form, when he was an all-star.

     

    Prediction

    Jurrjens will get 12 wins, which is far better than anyone would have expected after his demotion after four starts.

Randall Delgado

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    Delgado beat out top prospect Julio Teheran for the final rotation spot in spring training, but hasn't really lived up to the billing.

    He's currently 4-9 with a 4.52 ERA and 69 strikeouts.

    One thing that you don't see in the record, however, is the fact that Delgado has only given up more than four runs once all season.

    Having said that, he also gave up four runs in four games as well.

    Currently, the jury is still out on Delgado, but we know he has a great talent.

     

    Prediction

    The Braves are going to acquire a starting pitcher before the deadline (in my opinion). Delgado will be one of the pieces traded.

Mike Minor

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    Minor is the only lefty in the Braves rotation, so it's been hard to demote him due to his struggles.

    He is currently 5-6 with a 5.97 ERA and has lost the confidence of this Braves fan, although I have liked his last two starts.

    His struggles have been evident to the Braves faithful, and I'm not sure what manager Fredi Gonzalez will do if he struggles in the second half.

     

    Prediction

    Minor will stay in the rotation through the end of the season and garner 11 wins.

Who Else?

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    UPDATE: According to sources, Ben Sheets will be making the start Sunday against the Mets.

    The biggest question is, will this be a move that will last? Or, is Sheets holding a spot in the rotation warm for when and/or if the Braves make a trade.

    I made the prediction that Delgado will get traded in an earlier slide for a top-flight starting pitcher.

    The question is, who?

    Zack Greinke has drawn interest from the team, according to MLBTradeRumors.com, and they're also linked to Francisco Liriano, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.

    If the Braves don't go that route, they could always call up Julio Teheran if Minor and Delgado continue to struggle.

    What should the Braves do?

    The Braves could also leave Sheets in the rotation and send both Delgado and Minor in a trade for Greinke.

    The addition of Sheets opens a lot of doors.

     

    Prediction

    The Braves make a trade for Greinke—sending Delgado, another pitching prospect not named Teheran and an infield prospect to the Brewers in return. Sheets' status will remain up in the air, depending on who the Braves trade.

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