Julio Teheran could return to pre-2015 form. Maybe Matt Wisler masters a change-up and wins 15. Bud Norris and Jhoulys Chacin were once adequate — perhaps they will be again. Otherwise, you’re looking at Manny Banuelos on an innings limit, Folty on the DL (to start the year, at least). so it’s hard to expect much from them. Tyrell Jenkins? Ryan Weber?
A lot has to go right for the rotation to be just mediocre in 2016. The Braves insist they’ll be better but Shelby Miller and Alex Wood haven’t been replaced. On top of that the defense will be worse, with Andrelton gone.
As the season goes on we’re likely to see Aaron Blair, Sean Newcomb and Lucas Sims make their debuts. Those three, plus Teheran and Wisler, are likely to make up the rotation for the 2017 Braves. They have promise
This year’s edition, meanwhile, has the potential to be the worst in A-Braves history. The competition:
Any of the late 70s rotations could qualify, but the class of ’79 was particularly dreadful. The drop off from Knucksie was steep. The man with four first names, Eddie “Buddy J” Solomon, was a swingman masquerading as a No. 2 starter. No one else in the rotation, which included rookies Rick Matula and Tony Brizzolara and Rick’s brother Mickey Mahler, finished with a WHIP below 1.500.
The ace of the staff pitched like one on Opening Day. Otherwise, Rick Mahler was mediocrity personified. A future Cy Young winner was the No. 2 starter, but Steve Bedrosian was miscast as a starter, walking 111 in 206 IP. Pascual Perez and Len Barker combined to make 40 starts, winning only 3. Each finished with ERA’s above six. Zane Smith proved to be an able reinforcement but the future looked as bleak as the present.
Reliever Jeff Dedmon was the only pitcher (minimum 20 games) on the ’87 Braves to end the year with an ERA below 4 (3.92). Braves starters finished with a 4.81 ERA and 1.508 WHIP. In other words, the rotation was the equivalent of five Williams Perezes.