Conventional wisdom states that the Braves and the Phillies will battle for fourth place in the National League East this season, in other words, to avoid the cellar. At the heart of determining which team fares better will be the teams’ respective starting rotations.
So which team do you think has the best rotation as we near the beginning of spring training?
While neither rotation is firm, especially the Braves’ five, based on these projections, who has the edge, the Braves or the Phillies?
Julio Teheran. He’s the “ace” for now, but he needs more consistency to meet the typical expectations for that role. Last season, Teheran was 8-2 with a 2.89 ERA at home and 3-6 with a 5.40 ERA on the road. At home he allowed 82 hits, including nine home runs, in 109 innings and opponents hit .211 against him. On the road, he allowed 107 hits, including 18 homers, in 91 2/3 innings and opponents hit .298 against him. Clearly the Braves can’t rest on the road this season.
Bud Norris. The Braves will look for a turnaround from Norris. In the first six seasons of his career, he rocked steady with ERAs from 3.65 to 4.92, until last season. Splitting time between the Orioles and the Padres in 2015, Norris was a combined 3-11 with a 6.72 ERA. He made 11 starts, all with the Orioles, and allowed 100 hits in 83 innings overall. He gave up 15 homers and opponents hit .297 against him. He fared better in the NL than in the AL. With the Orioles he was 2-9 with a 7.06 ERA in 66 1/3 innings, and with the Padres he was 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 16 2/3 innings.
Matt Wisler. Wisler made his big-league debut June 19. He had a solid first outing, then his numbers grew steadily worse until he was sent to the bullpen in September. That seemed to motivate him. After one relief appearance, he finished the season with five impressive starts. Overall he was 8-8 with a 4.71 ERA last season, making 19 starts. His offseason work with Hall of Famer Tom Glavine offers encouraging reports that would indicate Wisler has a chance to break camp as the No. 2 starter.
Manny Banuelos. If the Braves want a left-hander in the rotation, Banuelos looks to have the inside track. (Prospect Sean Newcomb could affect that thinking with a strong spring training, but he likely needs a little more seasoning in the minors.) Banuelos, 24, made six starts as a rookie last season and finished with a 1-4 record and a 5.13 ERA. A bone spur in his elbow ended his season less than a month after his debut.
Williams Perez. There will be plenty of competition for this spot (and possibly two others). The competitors are veteran non-roster invitees Kyle Kendrick, Jhoulys Chacin and Chris Volstad along with prospect Tyrell Jenkins, Mike Foltynewicz (who is recovering from surgery), and long shots Casey Kelly and John Gant. But for now, let’s assume Perez follows his solid 2015 season with a spring performance strong enough to win a job in the rotation. Last season, Perez was 7-6 with a 4.78 ERA in 20 starts. The turning point came June 27, when the Braves put him on the DL with a foot injury. Before that point, he was 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA. After the injury, he was 3-6 with a 6.21 ERA.
PROJECTED PHILLIES ROTATION
Jeremy Hellickson. His nickname is “Hellboy,” but that alone doesn’t make him an ace who strikes fear in the hearts of NL batters, or AL, for that matter. After five seasons with the Rays, Hellickson pitched for the Diamondbacks last season. He was 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA, allowing 151 hits in 146 innings. He gave up 22 homers, and opponents hit .264 against him. He was 40-36 for the Rays with a 3.78 ERA. Those are solid numbers, but one question is whether he is more of an ace than Teheran, who in his career is 40-30 with a 3.44 ERA. Teheran has a slightly better strikeout rate — 7.7 per nine innings to 6.7 for Hellickson.
Charlie Morton. He’s a Braves draft pick from 2002 (third round) who made 15 starts for the Braves in 2008. That season he was 4-8 with a 6.15 ERA. He’s made 142 starts since then and is 41-62 with a 4.39 ERA. Until Norris’ nosedive last season, his numbers were stronger — 53-57 and a 3.84 ERA.
Aaron Nola. He impressed as a rookie last season, finishing with a 6-2 record and a 3.59 ERA. He allowed 74 hits in 77 2/3 innings, giving up 11 homers. Opponents hit .251 against him. The Phillies drafted him in the first round (seventh overall) in 2014 out of LSU. He wasn’t born in New Orleans, but is from Baton Rouge.
Jerad Eickhoff. The Phillies acquired him in the Cole Hamels trade July 31, and he made his big-league debut Aug. 21. In eight subsequent starts, he was 3-3 with a 2.65 ERA. He allowed 40 hits in 51 innings, giving up five homers, and opponents hit .212 against him. It’s a small sample, but impressive numbers.
Vincent Velasquez. He’s the projected starter, but he will compete against Brett Oberholzer and Adam Morgan for the fifth spot in the rotation. He is thought to have the inside track for now. As a rookie last season, he appeared in 19 games and started the first seven of them. He was 1-1 with a 4.37 ERA overall, including 1-1 with a 4.03 ERA as a starter.
Other Braves articles of interest”
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