Braves

What would a playoff starting rotation look like for the Braves?

The Braves still have some work to do to wrap up the NL East. They hold a three-game lead over the skidding Phillies with just over thirty games remaining. However, it is never too early to start talking about hypothetical situations that may occur in the near future, like a potential October rotation.

Atlanta has thrown a multitude of arms on the mound to start games over the last two months. Most have performed up to expectations, leaving Brian Snitker with some difficult potential decisions regarding the rotation in a playoff series. Our three Braves’s writers attempt to mimic that thought process by revealing who we think has earned the right to start a playoff game.

Chase Irle

Starting rotation:

1) Mike Foltynewicz

2) Sean Newcomb

3) Kevin Gausman

4) Julio Teheran

 

There is no doubt Mike Foltynewicz is the ace of this staff. He has separated himself from the rest and starting to make that Evan Gattis trade look like the work of pure genius. Sean Newcomb is piecing it all together in year two, which requires some inconsistencies. There are games where he looks like Cole Hamels or Jon Lester in their primes, and then he has an outing where he looks like a second-year starting pitcher. The good has outweighed the bad for the majority of the season, earning him the right to get the ball in a Game 2.

Kevin Gausman has really been impressive since joining the Braves. If he keeps pitching this way, it will be hard not to make him the #2. However, the sample size with Atlanta is still a small one, and Newcomb has been the more consistent pitcher over the entirety of the season.

The real conversation exists over who will be the fourth starter for the Braves. It probably comes down to Julio Teheran and Anibal Sanchez, but the Braves could shock the world and go with one of their explosive young talents. Teheran has been a model of inconsistency all season, has a terrible habit for giving up the long ball and right when you are about to give up on him, he tosses seven scoreless innings in a win. He has done this for years now, but he is a talented pitcher to have has your fourth option. I would mention he has postseason experience, but that one outing went about as poorly as it possibly could.

On the other hand, Anibal Sanchez has been a model of consistency for 2017. Injuries have cost him some starts over the course of the year but in nineteen outings he totes a 6-5 record with a 3.05 ERA. And perhaps the most impressive stat about Sanchez is that he has yet to allow more than four runs all season. Sanchez also has a 2.79 ERA in his seven postseason appearances.

Despite all the facts I laid out for you, I am sticking with Teheran because I am a sucker. My soft spot for Teheran has not faded completely, not just yet. If the Braves make the playoffs, it would be disappointing not to see him get that opportunity. He does have a better chance of completely shutting down an opposing lineup. Although, I completely understand why Snitker would roll with Anibal. The fear of a home-run derby taking place while Teheran is on the mound is real.

Harrison Coburn

Starting rotation:

1) Mike Foltynewicz

2) Sean Newcomb

3) Kevin Gausman

4) Anibal Sanchez

 

Chase basically covered these bases already for the top 3 guys. Foltynewicz is the ace of the team, and Newcomb and Gausman are basically 2A and 2B, and whatever games they start could be decided by matchups. The real question is obviously whether it should be Anibal Sanchez or Julio Teheran for the fourth spot.

Personally, I think you have to go with Anibal, who has been a model of consistency this year. I mean the guy has a 3.05 ERA, how can you not start him? Sure, many thought he was washed up prior to the season. However, he has been Atlanta’s safest starter this season and given the team a chance to win every game, which is a luxury coming from your back-end playoff starter.

Teheran is talented, but I think he is also likely the odd man out of the rotation come this offseason when the Braves will have to accommodate younger arms. Although, Sanchez is a free agent at the end of the season, potentially playing into his role for the playoffs.

Even with that being said, Teheran’s inconsistencies at home and his troubles with the long ball have him on the outside looking in. The good news is that he, Touki Toussaint, and other young prospects can help mask the greatest weakness the Braves have had this year, the bullpen. I think Julio will have a role with the team in the playoffs, but I am not sure he will be starting any games barring unexpected struggles or injury.

 

Jake Gordon

Starting Rotation:

1) Mike Foltynewicz

2) Sean Newcomb

3) Kevin Gausman

4) Julio Teheran

 

We’re all in agreement with the top 3 spots. Should the Braves play in a Wild Card Game, Foltynewicz will toe the rubber for Atlanta. Sean Newcomb has been excellent this year, and Kevin Gausman has posted a 1.69 ERA in Atlanta. Whoever starts game two will likely be a decision based on a lefty/righty heavy lineup. I think Julio Teheran will get the 4th spot due to his status with the franchise. He has also been better as of late.

A potential for the 4th spot could be Touki Toussiant, Bryse Wilson, or Kyle Wright. All 3 of these guys will get innings during September, so they have an opportunity to claim the spot from the longtime vets Teheran and Sanchez. Personally, I would love to see one of the young guys make a playoff start.

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