According to various reports, the Atlanta Braves signed starting pitcher Ervin Santana to a one-year deal worth $14 million. While the price tag may have been a tad bit high, this is a great signing for Atlanta.
Don’t let Santana’s sub-.500, 9-10 record from 2013 fool you; he was a solid pitcher. Through 32 starts, he pitched to a 3.24 ERA with 161 strikeouts. He held opponents to a .222 batting average and struck out nearly seven batters per nine innings. While his record didn’t let him stand out, the rest of his numbers did.
Atlanta is signing Santana mainly because of injuries to their starting rotation. In the past week, they’ve seen Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen both get scratched due to injuries. Beachy’s injury stems from tightness in his throwing elbow, so that could simply be some Spring Training soreness. Medlen, however, said Wednesday that he’s preparing for a second Tommy Johns Surgery.
The Braves lost Tim Hudson over the offseason, but have seen Freddy Garcia step up in Spring Training as a prospective starter. For a while, things were looking pretty good for their rotation. With the recent injuries to some key starters, they needed to find a replacement. By signing Santana, they have added a quality pitcher to pick up the slack. His solid track record against the division also helps.
In nine career starts against the NL East (excluding the Braves), he’s 2-2 with a 2.94 ERA. He averages nearly nine strikeouts per nine innings with an opponents batting average of just .206. If there was an ideal division for him to join and thrive, the NL East is it. Santana has fared well there in the past, and there’s no reason why he can’t continue that success this fall.
The price tag for Santana may have been a bit high, but the Braves had added a quality pitcher. Expect Santana to pitch well in 2014 and keep Atlanta competitive in the NL East.