Atlanta Braves Rotation a Dominant Force to Be Reckoned with in the NL

Chris WilkesContributor IIMay 5, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 04:  Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers at Turner Field on May 4, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Lookout Philly, Atlanta has a deck of aces all it's own.

Anyone who turns on ESPN knows about the pitching pantheon in Philadelphia, but few analysts gave much fanfare to the staff in Atlanta.

Sure, the Braves' group is somewhat of a rag-tag underdog crew, but they are proving nightly that they are just as reliable and talented as the expensive darling Phillies staff. 

Admittedly, the Braves starters lack the flashy razzle-dazzle of pitchers like Halladay and Lee, but they are getting the job done regardless. Braves starters Hudson, Lowe, and Jurrjens serve up heavy doses of ground balls, while Hanson and rookie Brandon Beachy have become crafty strike-out artists.

Another key to Atlanta's success is their stellar defense. As a team, the Braves have turned an NL best 81 double-plays and have only committed 13 errors thus far. 

Atlanta's fundamentally sound play has payed off. As of Friday, the Atlanta staff has posted a 3.03 ERA, exactly equal to that of the highly-touted Philadelphia pitching.

Braves pitching also has the highest ground-ball percentage in the league. Even strike-outs, a stat Philly should easy conquer, is bested by the Braves' pitchers. 

Both Atlanta and Philadelphia have a lot to prove in their three game series this weekend.

Atlanta looks to prove their legitimacy against an elite NL opponent, while Philly hopes to reassure their fans that all their salary was money well spent.