Riding a seven-game winning streak and finding themselves just 2.5 games behind the National League East-leading Washington Nationals, the Atlanta Braves are reportedly seeking an ace for their pitching staff (via MLBTradeRumors.com).
Other teams say #Braves only looking for a "top-of-the-rotation guy." So be dubious of rumors linking them with Liriano, Vargas, etc.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 16, 2012
Braves starters rank No. 19 in the MLB with a staff ERA of 4.16 and recently saw their ace Brandon Beachy—who led the MLB in ERA for quite a while—lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery.
On the bright side, Ben Sheets, who hadn't pitched since 2010 due to extensive arm issues, defied all odds on Sunday, June 15, when he allowed just two hits and zero earned runs while striking out five batters over six innings against the New York Mets.
Sheets was a four-time all-star as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, and to see him come back from such devastating injuries is remarkable, but it's not going to be enough to overcome the Nationals.
With that being said, you can bet the Braves will be looking at Zack Greinke, but as Steve Adams of MLBTradeRumors.com reports, Braves' GM Frank Wren will only deal his pitching prospects if Greinke would sign an extension.
Greinke has been solid again in 2012, going 9-3 with a 3.57 ERA and 117 Ks in 116 innings pitched and would be a nice fit for Atlanta, but only if he agrees to a long-term deal.
Wren and the Braves' brass certainly aren't about to part with their young prospects for a two-month rental, even if he's a former Cy Young winner.
If Greinke opts not to sign an extension, Liriano and Ryan Dempster are also options for the Braves, but obviously Greinke is the target as of now.