Projecting Atlanta Braves 5-Man Rotation for 2014
The Atlanta Braves will once again hope a relatively young and inexperienced starting rotation can anchor the 2014 season as it did in 2013.
The Braves entered 2013 facing questions about Mike Minor and Julio Teheran's effectiveness for an entire season.
Brandon Beachy's health and Kris Medlen's role were also questions.
The end result was a 3.51 ERA for the starting rotation—good enough for fifth in the National League.
The 2014 season will bring some new questions surrounding the rotation.
The departure of veteran Tim Hudson (and possibly Paul Maholm) leaves the Braves with a young and talented rotation in 2014.
Here's one man's prediction for the look of the starting rotation when the 2014 season begins.
1. Mike Minor
Mike Minor showed he was capable of big things in the second half of the 2012 season but truly emerged last season.
The left-hander was the team's most consistent pitcher all season in posting a 13-9 record and 3.21 ERA.
He set personal bests in wins, ERA, innings pitched (204.2), strikeouts (181) and WHIP (1.09).
The 26-year-old also got the only postseason win for the Braves by limiting a potent Dodgers lineup to one run in 6.1 innings.
The next step for Minor will be leading the rotation after the loss of Hudson.
While it may not be ideal for the Braves or Minor to take on such a role, he is capable of handling such duties.
Minor's health and progression will be key to the Braves having a successful 2014 season.
2. Julio Teheran
Julio Teheran displayed during the 2013 season why he was such a highly touted prospect.
The 22-year-old posted a 14-8 record and 3.20 ERA in his rookie season.
Teheran entered the 2013 season as the fifth starter but enters the 2014 season solidified as a member of the rotation for the foreseeable future.
Braves' fans hoped the team would grab a legitimate ace in the offseason to compete with the top teams in the National League.
While that looks unlikely at this point, there's certainly hope that Teheran could develop into one.
He will be just 23 years old on Opening Day and has four effective pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup).
How Teheran develops in 2014 will be one of the more intriguing storylines to follow for the Braves.
3. Kris Medlen
Kris Medlen was almost moved to the bullpen around the midway point of the 2013 season.
Instead, the right-hander led the starters in wins (15) and ERA (3.11).
His 2013 season, combined with the second half of the 2012 season, shows that Medlen belongs in the starting rotation.
While he may not be best suited to start Game 1 in the playoffs (five runs in four innings), he has great value as a No. 3 starter on a contending team.
Medlen fits in nicely in the middle of this rotation.
You know what to expect from Medlen when he takes the hill.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez will appreciate his consistency in the middle of his young rotation.
4. Brandon Beachy
The 2013 season was essentially a lost one for Brandon Beachy.
He returned from Tommy John surgery in late July but did not remain in the rotation.
Beachy made just five starts (2-1, 4.50 ERA) before finishing the season on the disabled list with more elbow issues.
The good news for Beachy is that he will be ready by the start of the 2014 season with every opportunity to be a member of the starting rotation.
The Braves hope he returns to his 2012 form in which he led the National League in ERA before his season-ending injury.
However, it's impossible to know what to expect from him as 2014 approaches.
If everything goes according to plan in spring training, look for Beachy to be the No. 4 starter.
He could morph into a top-end starter or not be a factor in the rotation by season's end.
5. Alex Wood
It was a whirlwind 2013 season for Alex Wood.
He began the season as one of the team's top prospects, and then ascended quickly through the minors before being promoted to Atlanta.
In Atlanta, he started in the bullpen before being switched to a starter, where he was 3-2 with a 3.54 ERA.
However, he made the transition back to the bullpen as the playoffs rolled around in order to provide more depth from the left side.
The role for Wood in 2014 is still very much in the air.
That should clear up as spring training approaches.
The loss of Hudson seemingly opens up a spot for Wood as the No. 5, and I believe he projects best as a starter.
If he begins the season as a starter, I think it will be tough to remove him from the rotation.
With a plus fastball, tight breaking ball and improving changeup, I'd look for Wood to hold a spot in the rotation much like Teheran did in 2013.
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