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If you were to name the top five pitching staffs in baseball last year, who would you list? Tampa Bay, Washington, San Francisco, Cincinnati and maybe Detroit?
Well, this may be anticlimactic, but Atlanta's staff was responsible for the fifth-lowest ERA in baseball last season. They were also fourth in WHIP and batting average against.
And that was with a revolving door at the fifth spot in the rotation, one that shifted (unsuccessfully) between the hands of Randall Delgado, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens.
When 2013 rolls around, staff anchor Tim Hudson (perhaps the most underrated pitcher in the game) will steadily lead a rotation headlined by serendipitous ace Kris Medlen (who definitely can sustain top-of-the-line production, albeit perhaps not with an ERA under one again) and Mike Minor (he of the 2.16 second-half ERA).
Rounded out by Paul Maholm, who supplied a steady 3.54 ERA for Atlanta since acquired from the Cubs.
The final spot will most likely be a three-way competition between Tommy Hanson, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran. Hanson might win the spot simply by virtue of Atlanta boosting his trade value, but Delgado and especially Teheran carry more upside should they step it up in Spring Training.
This is a very good rotation only getting better, setting up for the best bullpen in the game.
Yes, I went there.
Craig Kimbrel is unequivocally matched in his ninth-inning superiority, Eric O'Flaherty has put up a three-year stretch of a 1.59 ERA and Jonny Venters, after recording a 1.89 ERA his first two years in the big leagues, struggled with injury early in 2012 but got back to his filthy ways in the second half, posting a 1.71 ERA.
Who is going to score runs off of these guys?