For a few days in spring training, it seemed like the Braves were going to have a hard time even fielding a full starting rotation. Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy blew their elbows out (again), while Freddy Garcia gave the Braves no hope he'd be able to provide sufficient quality innings.
But then Ervin Santana was signed. Then Aaron Harang was signed. Mike Minor came back and then Gavin Floyd returned.
Atlanta's rotation has turned out to be a strength. Julio Teheran has become the ace. Alex Wood has been outstanding. Santana and Harang have combined for a 19-12 record and a 3.53 ERA.
Mike Minor has struggled, and that must be a worry moving forward. Atlanta's rotation did lead baseball in ERA for most of the season, but it's fallen to sixth in MLB and fourth in the NL with a rotation ERA of 3.42.
But how does the Atlanta rotation stack up now that several NL teams have made improvements with trades? Let's look at the teams battling the Braves for a playoff spot and see how the Braves measure up.
Washington - Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister. The Nationals' starters have now passed Atlanta with a 3.28 ERA. Roark has been their best and Fister has done very well since coming off the disabled list. Those two are 21-8 combined. A very solid rotation.
Miami - Nate Eovaldi, Tom Koehler, Jacob Turner and Jarred Cosart. The Marlins are 4.5 back of the Braves, so you can't count them out. All-star Henderson Alvarez was placed on the disabled list Friday with shoulder inflammation, so that's a worry. Alvarez was fourth in the NL with a 2.48 ERA. Cosart came over from the Astros on Thursday.
Milwaukee - Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Wily Peralta and Marco Estrada. These five have started all but four games this season for the Brewers. Solid arms. Maybe not a star, but solid arms. Milwaukee is 11th in rotation ERA with a 3.69 mark.
St. Louis - Adam Wainwright, John Lackey, Justin Masterson, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller. Lackey and Masterson were acquired before the trade deadline, as Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia are now on the 60-day disabled list. They traded Joe Kelly to Boston. How well will Lackey and Masterson pitch? That could determine a lot in the next two (or three) months.
Pittsburgh - Charlie Morton, Edinson Volquiez, Francisco Liriano, Vance Worley and Jeff Locke. They were looking for a starter before Thursday's deadline. They expect Gerrit Cole back soon. Pirates seem to be getting better on the mound. A solid rotation.
Cincinnati - Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Homer Bailey and Aldredo Simon. Cueto is the star here, while the others are providing solid innings. Reds have a 3.27 starters' ERA, second-best in MLB. To do that in the Great American Ballpark is impressive.
Los Angeles - Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greinke, Josh Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren. Do Braves fans really need to hear this again? They were dominant in Los Angeles this week against the Braves. Best rotation ERA in baseball: 3.19. No team will want to play the Dodgers in October with this bunch.
San Francisco - Tim Hudson, Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong. Peavy needs to win a game and get going. The Giants will not get Matt Cain back and that hurts, but the rotation depth is solid.
So how does Atlanta's rotation stack up in the National League? How would you rank these nine rotations?
Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, GA and WCOH Fox Sports 1400 in Newnan, GA. Shanks is a columnist for The Telegraph in Macon.. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.
How does Atlanta's rotation stack up?
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