Ten or twenty years ago if I asked you to glance at which Major League Baseball team had the lowest team ERA, you would not be surprised in the least if the Atlanta Braves were sitting atop that stat line. Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux were notoriously the best staff in the majors along with the relievers on hand. What if I asked you to look at that ERA stat line right now? Well, if you look now you will see something that might be surprising. The Braves have the best pitching staff in the majors.
There are your notorious top three ace-quality pitchers: Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm and Mike Minor. Wait, who are those last two guys? In the finale of the Braves series with the Miami Marlins, Minor pitched shutout baseball until he was relieved in the sixth inning. That effort along with the shut down innings by the Braves bullpen brought the team ERA down to a miniscule 1.89. That makes them the only team in MLB with a team ERA below 2.
Generally this season the Marlins have been good for opposing team’s pitching numbers but that is only three games of the 8-1 record and six game winning streak that the Braves are riding into the Washington Nationals series. Minor and company’s effort on Wednesday night highlights a potentially scary truth. When you consider the depth of the Braves bullpen in addition to having four extremely good starting pitchers, this staff isn’t as good as those were in the nineties; it is better.