Eight games are left in the 2017 season and the Braves are already looking forward to a 2018 revamp.
With the men behind the plate locked down, who will be standing on the mound?
Jaime Garcia was traded soon after Newcomb’s call up, and with this move, the Braves’ tone was stern: unloading is necessary to rebuilding. Aaron Blair was called up and then immediately demoted after three innings of five run ball.
Teheran, Dickey and Foltynewicz are the only opening starters that remain in Atlanta.
Dickey is the big question mark. At 42, he is the sole veteran in a predominately young starting rotation. His contract includes an option for the 2018 season, but the Braves have not indicated whether they will exercise it for $8 million. Or the knuckleballer may decide to take a final curtain call at the closing of the year.
Next year’s starting rotation:
For the past four seasons, Teheran has topped the mound on opening day and March 29, 2018, won’t be any different. However, his pitch command and consistency don’t lend themselves to the ‘ace’ mantra. His last four starts delineate near perfection with a 2.16 ERA in 25 innings. But his current 4.39 ERA for the season reflects mediocrity.
Folty has the potential, just like Teheran, to be the ace. His pitches have bite to them, and his delivery combined with his pitch sequencing resembles John Smoltz. But like Teheran, consistency is not there. In a perfect world, the Braves would pick out the eight inning, no-hit bid Folty from June 30 and use him ever fifth start.
This season’s 4.79 ERA won’t earn Folty an immediate two-hole spot in the 2018 rotation.
Newcomb’s first four major league starts in July proved the Colon trade was golden. He posted a 1.48 ERA in 24.1 innings with 21 strikeouts. His current pitching line (4-8 with a 4.36 ERA) reflects a starter who pitched without any run support, something that will continue to defeat the Braves again and again.
The youngest in the rotation happens to be the most exciting to watch. His 6’3” 210 lbs. stature mimics a young C.C. Sabathia. In his first three starts this season, Gohara posted a 6.06 ERA. His uneasiness lends weight back to him overpowering his pitches. But Gohara showed a different, more relaxed approach against the Phillies yesterday with five hits and one ER. He currently has a 4.63 ERA.
Depending on the Dickey option, the Braves may opt for a veteran outside of the organization. The rotation is swamped with relatively young talent and elder experience is always invaluable to any ball club. This year, for instance, R.A. Dickey has sustained positive outings when a young hurler could’ve easily crippled under pressure. His worth has been priceless.
Over the next month, Dickey’s place for the next year should be finalized, and the rust of the 2017 season will be left to rummage over in the record books.
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