The Braves pitching staff faced some question marks coming into the season, but it has proven to be the team's most consistent strength throughout the first 83 games.
Some wondered if guys like Kris Medlen and Mike Minor could continue their successes from 2012. Others noted that Tim Hudson was going to turn 38 during the season. Still more people were curious as to why the Braves would opt to trade Randall Delgado instead of Julio Teheran to Arizona. And essentially everyone was looking forward to the midseason return of Brandon Beachy from Tommy John surgery.
Yet this group is second in all of baseball with a 3.18 ERA, and it held opposing hitters to a .242 average, the fourth-lowest in MLB.
Here is a more detailed breakdown:
|W-L ||ERA ||GS || IP || BB || K ||WHIP ||BAA
|33-28 ||3.42 ||83 ||512.2 ||126 ||406 ||1.20 ||.252
|W-L ||ERA ||SV || IP || BB || K ||WHIP ||BAA
|16-6 ||2.64 || 24 ||225 || 81 ||194 ||1.14 ||.215
Hudson and Medlen worked through some difficulties and have provided their share of quality efforts. The run support has not exactly benefited either man in the win column, but both have made their contributions.
Meanwhile, Minor has been great. Unlike 2012, the young left-hander did not have to deal with a disastrous start to his season. His 8-3 record and staff-best 2.98 ERA are proof that he is continuing to make great strides in his career.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the work of veteran lefty Paul Maholm, who reeled off a shutout streak to open the season and has piled up a team-leading nine wins.
Then, of course, there is Teheran. He is carving out a place among the best young arms in baseball. We'll discuss him in more detail later.
The questions that were floating around regarding the rotation were still very much in play, as various relievers began landing on the disabled list, some with season-ending injuries.
Losing Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters to Tommy John surgery was hardly part of the plan. It seemed that was around the same time that Craig Kimbrel battled through some struggles of his own. Thankfully for Atlanta, its closer's rough patch did not last long.
All things considered, guys like Cory Gearrin, Luis Avilan and Anthony Varvaro have come up big all season. Jordan Walden returned from the DL to serve as a viable late-inning arm once again. More recent additions David Carpenter and Alex Wood have also paid dividends.
Expect some reinforcements for the staff before the deadline passes, but this entire staff has done an excellent job.