The Atlanta Braves have gotten off to a strong start by compiling a record of 5-3, and despite their depleted rotation, pitching has been a strength instead of a problem. The Braves rank first in the MLB with their starting pitcher’s ERA coming in at 1.61 on Wednesday. So far the results have been excellent for a pitching staff that was desperately pieced together right before the start of the season.
On Wednesday night’s win against the Mets, the Braves got a boost from Ervin Santana, who pitched eight scoreless innings in his debut. His impressive performance has not been the sole highlight from Atlanta’s starters, however. Julio Teheran has had a strong start, Aaron Harang looks like he did in his prime, and Alex Wood has dazzled so far.
Last week in this column, the Braves’ offense was seen as a bigger weakness than the depleted pitching staff. This has definitely been this case so far for the Braves, as the depleted pitching staff has been outstanding, while the offense has severely disappointed. The Braves’ hitters have mostly been cold and rank 30th in runs scored and 25th in batting average in total offensive categories in the MLB. Their pitching, however, has brought this team a winning record, and they rank second in overall team ERA in the majors.
Julio Teheran has lived up to the hype, and he has proven that he can be the ace of the Braves and possibly an elite pitcher in the future. In two starts Teheran has a 1-1 record with an ERA of 2.77 with eight strikeouts in 13 innings. As the Opening Day starter, Teheran has looked like he has more confidence. He has impressed with his ability to almost seamlessly get out of jams in his first two starts.
Ervin Santana made his Braves debut on Wednesday night by going eight innings and striking out six batters in which he gave up zero runs. Of his total of 88 pitches, 65 of them were thrown for strikes. This was the best start the Atlanta Braves could ask for, and he will likely be one of the main contributors to this pitching staff.
The most surprising performance so far has been the success of Aaron Harang. In 12.2 innings, he has a record of 1-1 with a 0.71 ERA and 12 strikeouts. If he keeps up his hot streak of pitching throughout the early part of the year, it may be very difficult to remove him from the rotation once Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd make their way back from injuries.
Alex Wood is not to be overlooked because he has pitched incredibly well so far. The 23-year-old left-hander looks as if he is headed towards a breakout season. So far he leads the team in innings pitched — with 14 — along with a 1-1 record, an ERA of 1.93, and nine strikeouts. If he can limit some of the trouble he has faced in the first inning, then the sky’s the limit for this extremely talented pitcher.
The Braves have so far been successful in the first week and a half of the season, despite a weak offense and depleted pitching staff. Atlanta boasts a very dangerous and talented team that can be very well-balanced when everything is clicking. But the main problem still lies in the streaky offense, which has been very cold as of late. When Mike Minor rejoins the ball club in late April, the rotation should become even better. If all the starters become healthy, then this could very well be the best starting rotation in the majors.
Freddie Freeman – Through eight games, Freeman is leading the Braves in every single major offensive category. He has put up a .407 average, including 11 hits, with two home runs and four RBI. He has unquestionably been the most consistent and productive hitter on the Braves in recent times, and he has kept up his tremendous pace at the plate in the early part of the season.
B.J. Upton – Upton was benched on Wednesday due to his bad start at the plate. Despite a re-working of his swing over the offseason, B.J. has looked much like he did in last year’s disastrous season. He is one of the MLB leaders in strikeouts with 13, and he has a .138 batting average to go along with 4 hits and zero home runs or RBI.
Commentary by Glen Parris
Guardian Liberty Voice Writer Covering the Atlanta Braves