Ben Sheets Has Earned More Rotation Time for Atlanta Braves

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIJuly 17, 2012

When the Atlanta Braves signed Ben Sheets to a minor league deal on July 1, I (like many Braves' fans) thought nothing of it.

After all, Sheets hadn't pitched in the majors since 2010 with Oakland, being plagued with injuries in 2009 and 2011.

But, with the season-ending injury to Brandon Beachy, and the struggles of Mike Minor and Randall Delgado, Sheets got his chance to show the Braves what he could do in Sunday's start against the Mets.

For those who missed it, Sheets pitched six innings, gave up two hits, one walk, no runs and struck out five.

Throughout the game he kept Mets' hitters off-balance and never looked like he wasn't in control on the mound.

With his performance, I believe Sheets has earned the right to get a few more starts in the Braves' rotation before fans call for someone to replace him.

Now, I'm not saying that we should pin all of our hopes and dreams on Sheets to fix one of the problem areas in the Braves' rotation because we all know how well that's done for us in the past.

Sheets provides another veteran arm in the rotation, and when healthy, can keep his ERA under 4.00.

Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson are no doubt entrenched in the rotation, and Jair Jurrjens has impressed since being called back up from Triple-A.

Add in Sheets and what he can possibly do, then the Braves really only have one problem spot in the rotation to solve.

And, general manager Frank Wren can use that to trade Minor and Delgado for a top-of-the-line starter like Zack Greinke at the trade deadline.

Outside of that, I think it would be foolish for the Braves to chase a second starter.

Sheets did what he was supposed to do in his first start.

Now, let's hope he can keep it up, giving the Braves one of the bigger free-agent pickups of the season.