The Braves’ reconfigured rotation hasn’t held up its end

He’s big and he’s sexy, but he hasn’t been very good. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Atlanta Braves are 11-20. They’ve lost six in a row for the second time this season — and they’ve also had a five-game skid — and we’re still two weeks from Memorial Day. These losing clusters were what more experienced and presumably better starting pitching was supposed to prevent. Oops.

The ERA of the Braves’ starters is 5.02, second-worst in the majors. The bullpen has been slightly better (4.77, 23rd-best among MLB teams), but the bullpen doesn’t figure if the game’s gone by the fifth inning. A pitcher’s won-lost record can deceive, but this is fairly revealing: The Braves’ starters are 7-15. Only one rotation (Toronto’s) has fewer wins. Only one (San Francisco’s) has more losses.

The Braves have lost eight of nine. Of the losses, seven were ascribed to starters. The Braves spent $32.5 million to rent Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Jaime Garcia. Off early returns, we can’t say they’ve gotten their money’s worth. (Not that Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz have been anything great of late, either.)

We knew that this rotation wouldn’t strike out many people. Sure enough, these starters rank next-to-last in the majors in K’s. We knew most of these guys would Pitch To Contact. Sure enough, this rotation ranks next-to-last in WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched). What we — and the Braves — mightn’t have expected was that Pitching To Contact in a new stadium where the ball seems to jump would have such an effect: In 13 starts at SunTrust Park, the Braves’ rotation has yielded 16 homers.

The thinking behind the rental of three pitchers with an aggregate age of 115 was to prevent what happened last year, when young arms Aaron Blair and Matt Wisler were overmatched. And only one Braves starter — Colon, whose ERA of 7.22 is the second-worst in the majors among qualifying pitchers — has been truly terrible. That said, the lowest ERA among Braves’ starters is Dickey’s 4.22.

The Braves are working with a new pitching coach, Chuck Hernandez having replaced Roger McDowell. (Who’s now with Baltimore, where the Orioles’ starters have the 11th-best ERA among MLB rotations; the Orioles also have baseball’s third-best record.) Hernandez’s pitchers, starters and relievers included, have the worst ERA in the majors, so we can’t say he has been an instant sensation. The belief was that Hernandez would work well with younger pitchers: Trouble is, not many of those are here.

The Braves’ lineup still has holes, but from where the offense was this time a year ago — last in everything — this everyday eight hasn’t been awful. The Braves rank 23rd in runs, 18th in OPS. (Then again, the SunTrust Effect cuts both ways.) The reason they have baseball’s second-worst record is that their rotation hasn’t held up its end.

The Braves knew the rent-a-codger tack might fail. (There comes a time when old pitchers can’t get anybody out.) They also knew that Colon, Dickey and Garcia — the latter is 30, so he’s not really old, and he has been the best of the bunch — would probably be here only a year and maybe, if other teams showed interest before the trade deadline, not that long.

Not wanting to put an non-competitive product on display in Cobb County but not wanting to force-feed any more young arms into the majors, the Braves opted for a half-measure. A seasoned rotation was supposed to work enough good innings to give an improving offense and a not-awful bullpen a chance. This isn’t to say that still can’t happen. But it’s not happening now.

Reader Comments 0

34 comments
BrightTiger
BrightTiger

"We will not allow another year like this to occur. We made a vow internally that that is not going to happen." John Schuerholz 9/21/2015

Swing, and another miss...

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

Got a pretty new ball park, though.  Lot's of things to do and stuff to eat.  Expansive areas for kids to stare at their hand-held devices.  They don't care if the team sucks.  Braves just have to sell "The Experience".

slydawg
slydawg

I believe the Braves built a Turner Field team that is living their first year in a new home that's a carbon copy of Minute Maid Field. They brought in older pitchers who normally puts the ball in play and hoped to play good defense behind them. But in SunTrust Park, you want anything but the ball in play... Then they have the nerve to hire a minor league teaching staff, not coaching, but teaching staff, while trying to appear to not be bottoming out....smdh.... No need to be mad folks. They messed up and are nowhere near desiring to compete for a championship. They just want to geek out on building the thing and hope they get lucky by the All Star break of one of these seasons....lol.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Watching the Braves, couple of guys on, nice sacrifice, big clutch hit by Phillips, who's a pro's pro. Well pitched start by Folty. Need the bullpen to lock this down. Need to see this more than once every 10 days.

GTYJ
GTYJ

6 weeks into the season and the Braves have already had 3 long losing streaks; 5 games, 6 games, 6 games (current).  Rejoice Cobb-tuckians !!!

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@GTYJ As a Braves fan I do not take any pleasure in the current state of the home team. It is and has been painful to watch, and likely will be for some time. GOOD front offices strive to avoid bottoming out, do not dive into full-scale tank-jobs intentionally, instead striving to remain competitive and attractive as a product on the field. Yes, there will be down YEARS, or even spells, but they should not be intentionally self-inflicted and they should NOT be condoned as a business practice in a competitive major league sport. In my opinion, anyone associated should be banned from the sport. 


As you can tell, I am NOT a fan of the past "Marlins way" or the "Astros way", for that matter.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@DawgDadII: "GOOD front offices strive to avoid bottoming out . . . ."

________________

True that, but irrelevant since ATL hasn't had a "GOOD" front office in quite some time.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Mets are desperate for starting pitching,Trade Colon and pay $9 Million of what is left on his contract for Tim Tebow and a couple of dozen batting practice balls. Maybe Big Sexy misses the Big Apple and might regain some semblance of his former self there.As for Tim Tebow ,park him in Rome until the 100 loss mark is a certainty ,then call him up to Cobb ,he may be good for an extra 1500 to 2500 fans in the seats. Heck if he hits .175 ,it will likely be higher than some Braves that start right now.And every team can use batting practice balls, as a matter of fact batting practice appears to be what Big Sexy is bringing to the Braves rotation. Maybe a better idea ,keep Big Sexy and let him pitch BP to the Braves.

patriotdog
patriotdog

And finally, any thought given to the idea that a different type of pitcher is required in the 'New Launching Pad' than the Ted?  Low ball pitchers needed, quick.

patriotdog
patriotdog

Season is 162, not 31.  Colon has struggled early before, and figured it out.  He'll figure it out again.  Fact is, a few hits with RISP and a few less 0-2 holes from the hitters and this article wouldn't have been written, which should have delved deeper into the bullpen failures as well.                         

DawgNole
DawgNole

@patriotdog

Woulda/shoulda/coulda.

Always rationalizing/defending losers.

Typical ATL fan.

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

Posters are a bunch of whiners, must be DAWG fans.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@ImaNitwit

So you're satisfied with them being among the worst teams in MLB the past two seasons?

Figures--with that imbecile blog handle.

A nitwit and a loser. What a combo.

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

A very expensive way to get a top 3 draft pick.

bwhitley
bwhitley

The stats don't lie.The staring pitching staff should never be at the Major League level,but that is the mentality of the Braves front office to feel like age is not a factor and their arms and bodies are wore out,no other organization has that old of a staff and trying pitch at that level. It is wishful thinking and poor management decisions from the so called experts that are evaluating talent.

I feel for the every day players to try and remain positive and focused when they know the odds are against them to win  and try to not lose 100 games this season.

This bad team will be successful if they win 60 games this year.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@bwhitley: "The staring pitching staff should never be at the Major League level . . . ."

_____________

What do you suppose they're staring at?

I do agree with you on feeling bad for the players, though. They didn't create this mess.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

The front office effectively turned the Braves into an expansion team. There are no guarantees and there is no timetable. If and when enough good young players emerge at roughly the same time the Braves might start winning. That could be two years from now, five, more, no one knows. What we do know is it isn't going to happen this year with this roster.

Bug
Bug

Bradley what exactly did you expect? Newcomb, Blair and Wisler should be in the rotation right now and should have been from day 1. At least they would have had the chance to pitch in live Major L games and I guarantee you the Braves would have just as many wins now or more with them. The Braves are going to lose this team if they continue to run out the AARP league pitchers if they have not already. It makes my stomach hurt every time they run one of those pitchers out there. Wait and see the fabulous stadium turn into tumble weed park by the summer if they do not at least pull up what little talent they have to pitch soon.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Bug: "Bradley what exactly did you expect?"

___________________

I would imagine he expects that a team with only ONE championship to show for more than half a century of play in ATL would be better by now than the trash we've seen on the field and in the front office the past several years.

-sting-
-sting-

bring back wren as consultant to coppy to give him some insight into pitching. he did pretty well in the pen and had a very limited budget.


wishful as thinking ferry is available to help the hawks. eh mark?


roger wasnt the answer either to the question of what is wrong. 

patriotdog
patriotdog

@-sting- true.  thanks to Roger and his handling of the bullpen, Venters is out of baseball, O'Flaherty is hanging on by the thread of an elbow ligament and how many other arms did he and Fredi ruin by riding them every day?  The one thing I hate is going to the pen without regard for how the starter is doing.  i.e. 8th inning, here comes the set up guy.  Modern coaching methods have made starters 6-7 inning guys and raised era's.

SebGuy
SebGuy

@patriotdog @-sting- Wrong! Bobby Cox ruined Venters and O'Flaherty. Fredi wasn't the manager when they were n their prime.


Bobby also ruined Blaine Boyer and Manny Acosta (?) too.

TimG
TimG

Where would Tehran fit in on the average MLB starting staff? 3rd, 4th, 5th??

patriotdog
patriotdog

@TimG average?  No idea.  A St Louis or Chicago staff? 5th, if not bullpen.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@TimG Mets right now 2 or 3. Yanks 3 or 4, Dodgers 3 or 4, Red Sox 2 or 3, Giants 3 or 4, Cubs 4 or 5, Cards 4 or 5, Astros 3 or 4, Indians right now 2 or 3. The better question might be could any of the Braves other four pitchers in the rotation , start for any other MLB teams AAA squad.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Dont worry, Liberty Media set World Series like concession records on opening day. A pennent will be hung for this at BUMtrust.Its all about the CASH....yesss the delicious CASH. Maffei and Malone probably strip naked and roll around in it. Laughing at the saps who think they actually care about winning.

POV1948
POV1948

Ole Bradley wouldn't dare suggest that maybe the root of the problem is a front office inability to evaluate pitching. Overestimating talent and readiness of arms in the farm system is an established trend with the Johns. That's a much more serious issue in the long term than rolling the dice on old pitchers for one season and coming up snake eyes.  

PTC DAWG1
PTC DAWG1

What rotation?  The local Old Folks Home could field a better team.  

GT71
GT71

Leave it to the AJC's Capt. Obvious to string a few ill-chosen words about this.  The only real response would be, 'DUH!'.  Or has MB, like other AJC 'journalists', become more than part of the problem.  My Lord, have these writers no brains? No common sense?  Or is all this to simply fill the expected 'output' for the nation's worst media outlet?  Throw the ill-considered, badly written and non-edited spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks.  That's the ticket.


UGAFan13
UGAFan13

No mention of the supposed Ace Julio.  He has been as stinky as the old arms!