Since May 15th (or a date soon to be known as Austin Riley day), the Braves rotation has been performing like a rotation that wants to pitch in October. Over their past nine starts, they have tossed 55.2 innings, allowed 29 hits, held opponents to just 11 runs, limited their walks to 18, and struck out 43. That performance gives the rotation a 1.79 ERA, a .851 WHIP, and 7Ks/9 innings. Every start has been a quality start, except for the two Julio Teheran outings, and he’s only allowed one earned run in 10.2 innings. This unit has gone from unnerving to stout — let’s take a look at each starter individually.
If you pegged Max Fried as the ace of this staff, then I need you to send me future lottery numbers and your best stock tips. A lefty with tremendous stuff, Max has always been held back by frustrating injuries. Blisters have killed Fried and left many wondering what they were going to get out of him. Two months into the season, the Braves have their very own Cy Young candidate. Fried has a 7-2 record, 2.88 ERA, and 51 strikeouts over 56.1 innings pitched. If Max continues to tear through the league this way, we are looking at a bonafide ace in Atlanta, and he may not be alone.
Mike Soroka, albeit a smaller sample than Fried’s, has been the most dominant pitcher on this staff — and arguably the MLB. The righty is 5-1 with a 1.01 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 44.2 innings. Soroka had Braves fans worried after missing time early in the season with the same shoulder issues that plagued him last year but has been virtually unhittable in his return. His pace is not maintainable, but he is still the type of pitcher that will be in contention for recognition at the end of the season. The sinkerballer has an early lead on the Rookie of the Year award and will be in the Cy Young conversation at this rate.
Arguably the best deal the Braves made last season, Gausman has proven to be a much better pitcher away from Baltimore. With a record of 2-3 and an ERA at 4.33, the numbers aren’t doing the former Oriole many favors. That said, he looks to be finding his groove. In his last two starts, Kevin has thrown 12 innings, allowed five earned runs (3.75 ERA), and struck out nine hitters. Those stats are perfect for a #3-5 starter, and I feel as though he has pitched better than what his numbers may indicate.
Julio Teheran has been the most talked-about, hated-on, or traded-away piece of the Braves current rotation. While dealing with that noise, all he has done is throw strikes. Currently, Julio has a 3-4 record, 3.67 ERA, and 62 strikeouts over 61.1 innings pitched. Even better numbers can be found in his past four starts. He has thrown 22.2 innings, allowed two earned runs (.81 ERA), and struck out 18 hitters. There is no denying that Julio’s stuff has diminished, but he is getting opponents out an elite level right now.
The ace from last year – Folty has been hampered by elbow issues this season. He probably came back too soon, as his pitches did not seem crisp like they had in the past. His numbers reflect that. He is 0-3 with a 6.91 ERA. However, his last start gave reason to believe that he is returning to Folty-like form. Mike threw six innings of 3-hit baseball. The only problem was that two of the three hits were taters. Still, there is reason to believe Folty will get back to what he was in 2018.
With guys like Touki and Newcomb in the bullpen, the Braves have options if a change needs to be made. But right now it ain’t broke, so they shouldn’t try to fix it.