Last week, I put together what I thought could be the Atlanta Braves' starting lineup in 2012. Now I'm taking a look at their possible 2012 starting rotation.
Atlanta has a lot of options here. To go along with veteran guys who know how to win, the Braves have a vast selection of young arms they can throw into the rotation. Whether or not they choose to use them next year is the question.
Much like the lineup I posted, Atlanta's rotation doesn't feature a whole lot of change from the 2011 one, but there is a relatively new face.
And don't worry, there is no Derek Lowe included here.
Tim Hudson is considered by many to be the best pitcher in baseball who doesn't strike anyone out. It's hard to argue that.
He's under contract for a respectable $9 million in 2012, which is a bargain these days for a starting pitcher of his caliber.
Hudson has made it clear that he wants to remain in Atlanta for as long as he can. I don't see him going anywhere as he will continue to lead a very talented Braves staff.
2011 Statistics: 16-10, 3.22 ERA, 158 strikeouts, 1.14 WHIP
Tommy Hanson was known as the shutdown starter in 2011 for the Braves, and before shoulder problems following the All-Star break, he was arguably Atlanta's best pitcher.
In a 33-start span between the 2010 and 2011 All-Star breaks, he had 22 quality starts, a 2.47 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 7.87 strikeouts per nine innings.
He's 25 years old and with a powerful arm. If he can stay healthy in 2012, he could have a monster year.
2011 Statistics: 11-7, 3.60 ERA, 142 strikeouts, 1.17 WHIP
An All-Star in 2011 and on his way to a dark-horse campaign for the Cy Young award, Jair Jurrjens had a brilliant season before suffering an injury.
There is some skepticism around Atlanta that with Jurrjens being arbitration eligible and with an agent like Scott Boras, it will cost the Braves a pretty penny to sign him. He could be traded in the offseason, but Atlanta could also choose to keep him.
The Braves could also choose to use Jurrjens as a trade tool to get a shortstop.
But I see the Braves sticking with him and maybe looking at trade options next year around the All-Star break, if they feel it necessary.
Either way, he'll be suiting up as a Brave out of spring training.
2011 Statistics: 13-6, 2.96 ERA, 90 strikeouts, 1.22 WHIP
Had his teammates not been Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Beachy would probably be a front-runner for the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2011.
He emerged as yet another great young arm for the Braves and has a bright future ahead of him.
I've heard people say that Beachy should be traded away while he looks most appealing to other clubs, but I'm not buying it. I think Beachy will be an asset to this team and should have an even better next year for Atlanta.
2011 Statistics: 7-3, 3.68 ERA, 169 strikeouts, 1.21 WHIP
The fifth spot in the Atlanta rotation, as of now, is up for grabs. The Braves have a number of solid young arms they could use in this spot and probably will try out all of them at some point.
I give it to Mike Minor though.
The 24-year-old regressed a little in 2011, but I like what the way he pitched down the stretch for the Braves.
Minor gives the Braves starting rotation the left-handed option they've been missing.
2011 Statistics: 5-3, 4.14 ERA, 77 strikeouts, 1.49 WHIP
At least from the starting rotation.
Like probably most of you, I was ecstatic when it was announced the Braves had acquired Derek Lowe. He is a veteran guy and proven winner. But like any player who severely underperforms, you learn to hate him.
Lowe, plain and simply, won't be a part of the 2012 starting rotation and GM Frank Wren has already hinted at that:
"Going into next season, it's hard to project him as one of our starters at this point, based on the young talent we have," Wren said. "But again, that's something we'll figure out once we get closer to spring training."
Lowe's $15 million salary will make it hard to find a team to make a deal with, but the Braves just can't suffer through another atrocious season from Lowe and expect to reach the playoffs. If they can't find a way to dump him, he will probably be tagged as the "$15 million middle reliever."
2011 Statistics: 9-17, 5.05 ERA, 137 strikeouts, 1.51 WHIP