After the Atlanta Braves were shut out 2-0 by the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day, there were a few questions that began to be answered. While the team needs to be able to lean on their offense early in the season until their starting pitching is solidified, the Braves could only muster five hits in the game with one of those being for extra bases (Chris Johnson).
With their offensive struggles against Milwaukee ace Yovani Gallardo, the Braves’ pitching was much better than most had thought it would be early in the season. While he didn’t have his good stuff for most of the game, Julio Teheran was the definition of a competitor in his first Opening Day start. He battled through every inning and at bat, and he showed the Braves that he was ready to take his hold on the rotation even if he doesn’t have his best stuff.
More impressive was the performance of the rookies Ian Thomas and Gus Schlosser.
Thomas came in the 7th inning and recorded his first major league out before giving up his first major league hit. Promptly, Schlosser came into the game and promptly induced a double play to end that inning. He then had a perfect 8th inning, striking out one batter before the Braves lost in the top of the 9th inning.
For manager Fredi Gonzalez, the appearance for Schlosser was quite impressive to be his first in the major leagues. He had a good presence on the mound, and it was clear that he was confident he was going to get the job done. With the stuff he has, he could end up making spot starts while performing very well out of the bullpen, much like Alex Wood did in 2013.
Thomas is a player the Braves need to pitch at a high level in 2014, at least until Jonny Venters can return to the bullpen this summer. While Luis Avilan is the dominant left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, the team needs a lefty who can get lefties out in situations when the Braves need an out. If he continues to progress, the Braves will be quite happy to have him in the bullpen.
As long as the Braves can start to score runs, the pitching is going to hold up. They will give the offense a chance to win the game more times than not, but if they will hit is yet to be seen.