JULIO TEHERAN – RHP – 25 years old
2015: 33 starts for the Atlanta Braves (11-8, 4.04 ERA)
Teheran is the ace of the staff until someone takes his job. Teheran has gone 39-29 in the last three seasons as a full-time member of the Atlanta rotation. His 2015 season was less-than-stellar, causing many to wonder if he was going down the Jair Jurrjens road. But Teheran did much better in his last six starts in September (1.62 ERA, 30 hits allowed in 39 innings, 32 strikeouts). The Braves may have had thoughts about trading Teheran, but his value is too low now. If he does well to start the season, Teheran might be right back on the trade market. But to start the season, Atlanta is counting on him to lead the staff.
BUD NORRIS – RHP – 31 years old
2015: 11 starts for the Baltimore Orioles (2-7, 6.79 ERA)
Norris was signed to a one-year contract for $2.5 million, with another $2.75 million possible in bonuses. He was not very good last season as a starter, and he transitioned to the bullpen after being traded to the Padres. But the Braves are looking back at his 2014 stats with Baltimore when Norris was 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA in 28 starts. Norris had some decent seasons with some bad Astros’ teams from 2009 through 2013, so the Braves hope he can at least eat some innings. At 31, Norris will be the oldest member of the rotation. If Norris does well, he could be trade bait before August 1.
MATT WISLER – RHP – 23 years old
2015: 19 starts for the Atlanta Braves (8-8, 4.79 ERA) – 12 starts for the Gwinnett Braves (3-4, 4.29 ERA)
Of all the young pitchers, Wisler has the upper hand at a job in the Atlanta rotation. He did well in his rookie season, and after the hiccup in September the Braves gave him an appearance in the bullpen that straightened him out. In his last five starts, Wisler was 3-2 and had a 2.34 ERA. Wisler would have to be awful in March for the Braves to even consider sending him back to Triple-A, and there is no expectation that will happen. The Braves believe they have a solid number two or three starter with Wisler. There will likely be more growing pains along the way, but Wisler’s experience last season should be very valuable. What can he do with 30 or more big league starts? The Braves hope to find out in 2016.
MIKE FOLTYNEWICZ – RHP – 24 years old
2015: 15 starts for the Atlanta Braves (4-6, 5.68 ERA) – 10 starts for the Gwinnett Braves (1-6, 3.49 ERA)
Foltynewicz may be a bit slower than some in spring training, but the Braves expect him to still compete for a job in the rotation. Sure, there’s a chance he’ll need a bit more time to recover from the blood clot that required surgery late last season. But the Braves are confident Foltynewicz will be able to show them what his timetable can be in March. There is plenty of talk about him moving to the pen, but the Braves must make sure Foltynewicz cannot handle the workload of being a starter first. He can maintain his velocity late into games, and if the Braves can continue to help him with his command Foltynewicz could turn into a special starting pitcher. The pressure of having numerous others competing for starting jobs will be there, as well. Foltynewicz may know his time is now, or he might get passed over for someone else.
WILLIAMS PEREZ – RHP – 24 years old
2015: 20 starts for the Atlanta Braves (7-6, 4.61 ERA) – 8 starts for the Gwinnett Braves (3-1, 1.16 ERA)Perez was very good at times last season in Atlanta. He had a 2.88 ERA in his first 11 appearances before getting hit with a comebacker to the mound in the June 26 games at Pittsburgh. Before the injury, he had a seven-inning, no-earned run performance against the Padres on June 10 and pitched six shutout innings in Boston. But after returning from the injury, Perez struggled. He allowed 38 earned runs in his first seven starts back (9.42 ERA). Then Perez got back on track in his final five starts (3-0, 2.35 ERA). What will the Braves see in spring training? The competition will be tough, and if he gets beat out, don’t count out Perez for a spot as a long reliever in the bullpen.
MANNY BANUELOS – LHP – 25 years old
2015: 6 starts with the Atlanta Braves (1-4, 5.33) – 16 starts with the Gwinnett Braves (6-2, 2.23 ERA)
Banuelos had surgery on September 17 to remove a bone spur in his left elbow. The Braves expect him to be ready for a full spring training and to compete for a job in the rotation. The belief is the bone spur was the last thing holding Banuelos back from being completely healthy. He showed great stuff last season in AAA and in Atlanta, and the Braves just want him to make his starts. He won’t be held back as much this year, as long as he does not have any issues in March. With there not being many left-handers, Banuelos has a chance to win a job in the Atlanta rotation.
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