Opening Day is almost here. In just one week the Braves will start their season in Atlanta against a Philadelphia team looking to prove they are still relevant in the division. Tim Hudson will be start for the Braves, going up against southpaw Cole Hamels. Hudson said, “It’s an honor and a privilege to start Opening Day with any club, especially with this one.” He clearly knows how good the Braves’ rotation is this year and that any one of them could have been named the Opening Day starter. But how good is the Braves rotation this year? I haven’t talked about them at all yet, so here are my thoughts on the Braves pitchers this season.
#15 Tim Hudson
The thirty-seven year old Hudson gets his first Opening Day start since 2008. He has yet to earn the loss in five career starts on Opening Day. His 16-7 record last season matched his best win percentage since 2003.
This spring has been pretty rough on Hudson. In his first five games his ERA was a dismal 5.4, having allowed 12 earned runs in just 20 innings pitched. The last game he pitched was on Thursday only hours after hearing the news that he would be starting Opening Day. That must have been the boost Hudson needed because he threw 6 innings of shutout baseball.
Hudson has never been known for getting strikeouts but he can still win baseball games, which is all that really matters. His age might prevent him from pitching as many innings as usual but he gives the Braves a good chance to win every time he takes the mound. Hudson should have another good year entering the tail end of his career.
#17 Paul Maholm
Maholm pitched only eleven games for the Braves last season after arriving midseason in a trade from the Cubs. Including his time with the Cubs last season Maholm recorded a career best 140 strikeouts. The past two seasons have been his best in hits, runs, earned runs and ERA.
If Spring Training is any indication Maholm should be in for another great season. In over 25 innings in his six starts Maholm boast an impressive 1.78 ERA. He has only allowed five runs off 20 hits while striking out 18.
Paul Maholm is in the prime of his career. Now that he is established on a great rotation on a team with playoff expectations he should have one of the best years of his career. Maholm will be a huge contributing factor for the Braves this season.
#54 Kris Medlen
Last season’s surprise pitcher has taken quite a beating in Spring Training. The right hander has let up 32 hits in almost 24 innings of work and allowed 19 runs. He has already given up four home runs, which could be a troubling sign when compared to the six he allowed all of last year.
These Spring Training numbers should not be indicative of how Medlen performs this season. However, it would be even less likely for him to repeat his astounding performance from last year. The fact that this will be his first full season on the starting rotation should also be taken into consideration. The workload of a 162 game schedule could prove to burden Medlen as the season draws to a close.
Medlen should be able to do great things for the Braves this year. He probably won’t put together the same type of incredible run like he had last year but he should be one of the better pitchers in the league. Hopefully he can bounce back after a tough Spring Training.
#36 Mike Minor
Minor is another young pitcher on the Braves’ rotation with a lot of potential. His role with the Braves has been increasing every year since his career began three years ago.
Like some of his teammates Minor is going through a rough Spring Training. In just 15 innings over the course of his first five starts he allowed 11 runs and 25 hits with an ERA of 5.50. The Mets pounded Minor in yesterdays game for five runs in five innings, including three home runs.
Despite this preseason Minor shows a lot of promise. He has a chance to be a force in the back of the rotation, but only if he can work out the problems revealed from Spring Training.
#56 Julio Teheran
The gem of the Braves’ farm system has finally been unleashed, and it appears that no hitter can figure out what to do with him. Teheran is pitching lights out in Spring Training. Each statistic is more impressive than the next. In 26 innings over six starts Teheran has managed to let up only seven hits and three runs, two of which were home runs. His 35 strikeouts have helped maintain his incredible 1.04 ERA. The most interesting piece of information is that Teheran has had three spring starts without allowing a single hit. It will be very exciting to watch him develop even further this season.
Tim Hudson: 14-9
Paul Maholm: 17-7
Kris Medlen: 12-10
Mike Minor: 13-10
Julio Teheran: 15-7
Maholm and Teheran will be All-Stars. Maholm will be involved in the Cy Young discussion. Teheran will be involved in the Rookie of the Year discussion.