The Atlanta Braves are sitting comfortably on top of the NL wildcard and only four games back of the Washington Nationals for the division lead. The reason for the Braves success this season is their starting pitching, a position that might be even deeper come 2013, bringing an abundance of MLB rumors next season.
The Braves literally have ten starting pitching options for 2013, but none of them are locks to return by opening day. Out of the ten pitchers, Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy and Tim Hudson are the most likely to return to Atlanta in 2013. However, Hanson and Beachy have health concerns and Hudson has a $9 million option that the Braves could buy out for a measly $1 million. The next tier of potential starters are Paul Maholm, Kris Medlen and Mike Minor. I guess I could include Medlen in the first tier, considering he is the best pitcher the Braves have right now. The Braves have won 17 straight games where Medlen has started, tying Chris Carpenter’s streak with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005.
After those six good possibilities, there are some unlikely possibilities in Jair Jurrjens, Ben Sheets and Randall Delgado. Jurrjens is a lock to be non-tendered in my opinion, so we can eliminate him. Sheets, while a fabulous story, probably isn’t in the long-term plans for the Braves. Lastly, Delgado might be used as trade bait, just like the Braves will use Julio Teheran this winter.
Teheran, who has been a top ten prospect according to a lot of farm gurus, has struggled not only with the big club in his spot starts, but also in the minors this season. The once sure-fire, can’t miss, best pitching prospect behind Matt Moore is sporting a 5.20 ERA in AAA this season. That’s a world of difference from the 2.55 ERA he posted last season in AAA.
Teheran will only be 22 heading into the 2013 season, so while his season might detract some potential trade suitors, the Braves will still have a surplus of potential trading partners for the young right-hander.
As the age-old saying goes, you can never have too much starting pitching, but the Braves may be living proof that there is always an exception to the rule.
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