How the Braves will solve their rotation dilemma

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Due to astronomical asking prices, Alex Anthopoulos admitted after the deadline the Braves never came close to making a deal for a starting pitcher. Judging by the rumored price tags for some of the arms on the market and the one deal that did happen (Zach Grienke to the Astros); the Braves made the correct decision in sticking with the group they have. Although not all of their current options are inspiring, they do have several of them and only need one to pan out.

Right now, Atlanta has four starters set in stone – Mike Soroka, Dallas Keuchel, Julio Teheran, and Max Fried. The fifth and final spot has been a revolving door for the last couple of months. Of those four, only two have already done enough to earn a slot in a potential playoff series – Mike Soroka and Dallas Keuchel.

Despite many faulty opinions, Teheran has been one of the best pitchers – not just for the Braves but in the National League. Since May, he has a 2.50 ERA in 16 starts. Over the whole year, that’s enough to put him between Max Scherzer and Luis Castilo for fourth in earned run average. The Braves are also 12-4 when he starts in that period, and Teheran pitched a gem on Tuesday in the most significant game to date against the Washington Nationals. If the playoffs started today, he’s starting the third game, and I wouldn’t lose an ounce of sleep over it.

The Battle for the Fourth Spot

The fourth spot is Max Fried’s to lose. He’s been a consistently reliable starter for the Braves all season and has postseason experience. Fried appeared in all four games for Atlanta in last year’s NLDS and pitched well. His only blemish was a home run off the bat of Max Muncy. Plus, his fiery attitude and ability to attack batters fit well in a playoff atmosphere. However, four other potential options will be vying for their names to be thrown into the hat.

Mike Foltynewicz might be the X-Fact to a Braves World Series run. He’s pitched miserably this season in the majors, which resulted in a demotion to AAA, where he has been for the last month. With the Stripers, the numbers have suggested that maybe the old Folty is coming back. I’m at the point where I’ll believe it when I see it. But if he can come up and look like the guy who pitched in 2018, he deserves a spot on the playoff roster – whether it be in the rotation or the bullpen.

Kevin Gausman is the option I am the least excited about, which is unfortunate because he’s a fellow LSU Tiger, but the two-pitch repertoire isn’t cutting it. He can start some throughout the regular season, but I’d be shocked if the Braves were desperate enough to use him to open a game in the postseason.

Ian Anderson deserves a shot at the majors. Frankly, I’m a bit shocked he hasn’t already been promoted to AAA. Maybe that will happen now that Kolby Allard has been traded to the Rangers.

Atlanta’s #2 ranked prospect has been dominant for Mississippi, leading the Southern League in strikeouts, totaling 147 in just 111 innings. He carries a 2.68 ERA entering August and has only gotten better as the season has gone on. The Braves owe it to themselves – given their rotation issues – to see what they have in Anderson. Soroka only needed five starts in Gwinnett last year before he was ready to make his MLB debut. I think we see Anderson in September, or perhaps even sooner.

Finally, Sean Newcomb might be the most intriguing name to consider. I know Brian Snitker said a few days ago; the Braves deem him too valuable in his current role, and I think he stays there for the remainder of the regular season, but that opinion might change after the Braves deadline acquisitions.

Atlanta now has a stacked bullpen, and if the situation among their starters does not improve, Newcomb may be the best option. The only problem with him moving from the bullpen is the Braves lack of lefty relievers. After Newcomb, Jerry Blevins and Grant Dayton are the only southpaws, unless you somehow still believe AJ Minter will make the playoff roster.

When you look at that list of players, it’s understandable why Anthopoulos decided not to pull off a blockbuster deal for another starter. The improved bullpen will help take some pressure off the rotation, and over the next two months, the Braves should feel comfortable with four guys going into October. Will it match the staff of the Dodgers? No, but it will be enough to give them a legitimate chance against anybody.

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