Six months after John Smoltz was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame, adding punctuation to the Braves' pitching dominance of the 1990s with similarly decorated teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, the new era of the team's rotation took another shot to the gut.
USA Today has ranked the major league's 30 starting rotations. Guess who's last?
Writer Ted Berg concedes before his rankings, "The following is informed by recent stats and 2016 projections, but it is on the whole a subjective list. ... I look forward to being shamed for my misses come September." But the fact he put the Braves 30th accurately illustrates perceptions most have about the Braves' starting pitching and the team in general going into the season.
Just below a picture of expected No. 1 starter Julio Teheran, Berg writes: "That man in the photo above is Julio Teheran, and he’s notable because he’s basically the only legit Major League starter set for the 2016 Braves rotation. Atlanta is in rebuilding mode, and there’s some upside to the pitchers likely to follow Teheran. But unless guys like Matt Wisler and Williams Perez develop better and faster than expected, the last season in Turner Field will be a very long one."
Can't argue with that. For what it's worth, the depth chart on the Braves' official website lists eight starters: Teheran, Bud Norris, Matt Wisler, Williams Perez, Mike Foltynewicz, Ryan Weber, Manny Banuelos and Tyrell Jenkins. The most significant change was a loss, not a gain: Shelby Miller, the team's best starter last season, was traded to Arizona in a five-player deal that brought back projected starting center fielder Ender Inciarte and prospect Dansby Swanson.
If some project the Braves to be no better than last year's 67-95 record, the starting rotations of some other teams in the National League, particularly the East Division, is one reason.
The same story lists the Chicago Cubs, the New York Mets (East) and the Washington Nationals (East) as having the top three rotations in the majors. Others include St Louis at No. 5, Los Angeles at No. 7, San Francisco at No. 9, Arizona at No. 10 and Pittsburgh at No. 12. Rounding out the East are Miami at 18th and Philadelphia just ahead of the Braves at 29th.
With the Braves' having so much unproven youth and Teheran coming off his worst full season in the majors, it's hard to dispute the ranking.
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