Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Poll: How many starters do Braves have for next season? 1, 2 ... any?


The Braves reached a new season low Monday night, and I realize that’s saying a lot for a team that has lost 10 of its past 14 games and is on pace for a third consecutive 90-loss season (I point that out for all the lemmings who said, “NO WAY!” would this team come close to losing 90 games again).

As our David O’Brien chronicled , the Braves’ 6-5 loss to Seattle on Monday night was punctuated by starter Mike Foltynewicz getting outpitched by the Mariners’ Andrew Albers (who the Braves recent dumped off their Gwinnett roster for pocket change).

I won’t bang on Braves general manager John Coppolella (too much) for determining Albers didn’t have a future with the team. He was pitching great in Gwinnett (12-3, 2.61 ERA), but is 31 years old and had spent most of the past 10 years in the minors. But he allowed only three earned runs (four total) and six hits in five innings Monday night and is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA with Seattle – an ERA that would rank FIRST among Braves starters. So, of course, now Coppy looks dumb.

But for a moment, let’s assume there will be a market correction with Albers and he ends up being the "4A" pitcher the Braves think he is. The real problem Monday night was the Braves’ starter, not Seattle’s.

Foltynewicz allowed six earned runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. His ERA this season has ballooned to 4.95. I’ve written several times before about the uncertainty (nice word) of the rotation going into next season, given the lack of proven commodities on the current roster. Folty is a good place to start.

The rundown is below. Here’s my question: How many – if any – of the starters below would you be willing to count on next season? I’m listing the pitchers in order of major league starts this season:

• Julio Teheran: 25 starts, 7-11, 5.02 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 0.3 WAR: The two-time All-Star is having the worst season of his career. Teheran has been kept against the backdrop of constant trade rumors. Now that the Braves could be willing to move him, the question is how much value he still has on the trade market. I maintain Teheran would be good as a No. 3 starter, possibly even a 2 if he could return to his 2014 former (2.89 ERA). But he has declined significantly since then. He strangely has pitched far better on the road (6-2, 3.24) than at home (1-9, 6.98). Guess he's not big on Cobb County.

• R.A. Dickey: 24 starts, 8-8, 3.98 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 1.8 WAR: Coppolella hoped Dickey, Bartolo Colon and Jaime Garcia could provide a bridge to next season. The bridge collapsed. Only Dickey is still here. He could be worth bringing back as a No. 5 starter. But when a 42-year-old knuckleballer has been your best starter, there's a problem.

• Mike Foltynewicz: 24 starts, 10-9, 4.95 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 0.5 WAR: You don't give up on a 25-year-old with his talent, but the lack of consistency and recent slide is concerning. His past three starts: 11.2 innings, 25 hits, 20 earned runs, 9 walks, 9 strikeouts.

• Sean Newcomb: 13 starts, 2-7, 4.13 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 1.1 WAR: He has been pretty much as advertised: talented but wild. He has walked 42 batters and allowed nine homers in 69 2/3 innings. Worst of all, he's the only potential usable commodity who came in return in the horrible Andrelton Simmons trade with the Los Angeles Angels -- a deal that made no sense at the time and makes even less sense now that Simmons is hitting .293.

• Lucas Sims: 4 starts, 1-3, 5.24 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 0.1 WAR: He's been in the organization for six years. That's all I've got.

• Matt Wisler: 1 start, 0-1, 7.04 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, -0.2 WAR: Remember when he came over in the Melvin Upton Jr. trade and some wanted to suggest he was a part of the Braves' future? Not so sure about that. (Reaffirming: The Braves gave away Craig Kimbrel because San Diego agreed to also absorb Upton's contract. That's it. That's all anybody should have ever paid attention to. Everything else in that trade was window dressing.)

• Aaron Blair: 1 start, 0-1, 15.00 ERA, 3.33 WHIP, -0.2 WAR: Like Wisler, he has a negative "WAR." I'm not deep enough into analytics to understand how one gets a negative WAR, but I'm smart enough to know it's bad. Fortunately, Blair is an after-thought in the Shelby Miller trade that also brought Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson.

(Other starters this season, since traded or released: Jaime Garcia, Bartolo Colon.)

So there's your starters this season. Who do you like for next year? Vote in the poll.

Some recent ramblings


Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.