The Braves are winning! Is this even possible? (If so, how?)

Atlanta Braves' Tyrell Jenkins pitches to a Milwaukee Brewers' batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Tyrell Jenkins, winning pitcher. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

The Atlanta Braves began the season with a rotation of Julio Teheran, Bud Norris, Matt Wisler, Williams Perez and Jhoulys Chacin. This rotation today: Mike Foltynewicz, Tyrell Jenkins, Rob Whelan, Joel De La Cruz and Roberto Hernandez.

Teheran and Perez are on the disabled list. Norris and Chacin were traded. Wisler was demoted. (So was Aaron Blair, who joined the rotation after Norris was moved to the bullpen.) In all, the Braves have used 14 different starting pitchers, and this was, as we know too well, a lousy team to begin with. But here’s the weird part: Having been reduced to deploying the 35-year-old Hernandez, who was twice released by the Blue Jays this year and was signed by the Braves last month, the rotation is looking …

Not awful.

The Braves have won 10 of 14 games. Five of those 14 games have produced quality starts, including one by Lucas Harrell, who was traded to the Rangers two days later. In all, this change-on-the-fly rotation  — seven different pitchers have started the 14 games — has produced an ERA of 4.35, which is slightly better than the Braves’ ERA for starting pitchers on the season (4.48). Which goes to show … well, who the heck knows?

Some of this can be ascribed to the Braves’ collection/cultivation of young pitchers: Foltynewicz and Jenkins, both of whom seemed ticketed for the bullpen, have been impressive; Whalen was acquired in last year’s Kelly Johnson trade, not to be confused with this year’s Kelly Johnson trade. But Hernandez, who’s on his seventh different organization since 2012, and De La Cruz, who was signed by the Brewers in 2006 and acquired by the Braves as a minor-league free agent over the winter, are the definition of journeymen.

Even if the only overarching theme is the part about necessity being the you-know-what, it’s still fascinating to watch. What’s the one thing guaranteed to destroy a team? Injuries to its starting pitchers. The Braves have had a cluster. (John Gant, acquired in the same deal as Whalen, took four turns and got hurt. Even the fill-ins are falling out.) And yet they’ve won 10 of 14.

Yes, the schedule has eased. Yes, the Kemp-added lineup has hit better, though Matt Kemp himself is 6-for-26 as a Brave. The Braves remain a distant last in the majors in runs, home runs and slugging percentage, but they’ve climbed to 25th in batting average. One small step for man!

In the grand scheme of a six-month season, 10 wins in 14 games is a blip. For the Braves, though, any diversion from the misery of 2016 is most welcome. After being swept out of Denver on July 24, they were 33-66, on pace to finish 54-108, which would have made this the worst Atlanta Braves team ever. Today they’re 43-70, on pace to go 62-100. Still bad, sure, maybe even bad enough to snag next year’s No. 1 draftee. But not historically awful.

Reader Comments 0

17 comments
DrTruth
DrTruth

Even the worst team in baseball can string together enough random hits during consecutive games to win a few.  If you want a true measurement of where the Braves are, 7 of their next 9 games are against the Nats.  That's your measuring stick.

KirkWilson
KirkWilson

Braves are nicely positioned for 2017; will have this batting order: Inciarte CF, Albies 2B, Freeman 1B, Kemp LF, Markakis RF, Wieters C, Garcia 3B, Pitcher, Swanson SS

Bench:Recker, Frenchy, Peterson, Smith, D'Arnuad

Karson
Karson

Sorry. Meant Olivera.

Karson
Karson

Oliver. $61mm for 98 major league at bats. Still think the Dodgers and Braves brass are savvy? Good for Hector. Idiots!

CoachB
CoachB

I don't care for the direction of this team and the farm system. Outside of trading for position plays with talent (Swansby) the Braves are still drafting poorly and producing little talent in the farm system. Forget the BA rankings...the Braves got this "top farm system" title through trades not drafting. The organization wastes money on Cuban players that saddle the purse strings, yet draft players based on saving money. In five years, we will watch players passed over in the draft by Atlanta producing in the show while the farm system crumbles under the weight of too many hurlers and too few bangers.

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tifakes

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LOGS1973
LOGS1973

Lot's of luck, that's how!

mc1362002
mc1362002

Mark Bradley saying something positive?   About a bad team like the Braves?    


The Braves are still very bad.    We'll see just what their final record is.  


My feeling.,  They will be decent. maybe, by 2018 or 2019, with their young pitching

DawgNole
DawgNole

"Still bad . . . . But not historically awful."

____________________

A typical sample of rationalization in defense of ATL's historically underperforming pro sports teams.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

Is just me? It seems like we've played the Twins a lot this year.