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The Way the Braves Construct Their Pitching Staff Does Not Equal Playoff Wins

Sep 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson (15) talks to fans and his team following the last game of the regular season against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field. The Braves won 12-5. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson (15) talks to fans and his team following the last game of the regular season against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field. The Braves won 12-5. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last 22 MLB postseasons the Atlanta Braves have made the playoffs 17 times. Incredibly, the only “poor” stretch was from 2006-2009 when the Braves did not make the playoffs four straight years – but they still had two winning seasons in that span. Then we all know what happened in 2011. Well those are the only five years when the Braves did not play in October.

I don’t have to tell you about how many World Series championships the Braves have won. Despite what outsiders say regarding this franchise, I think the postseason success over the last 22 years hasn’t been that bad – unfortunately the Yankees and a couple others’ success has galvanized the Braves shortcomings. That being said, I don’t think the Braves really give themselves the best shot to win playoff games.

While in the 90s the Braves were criticized for not winning more World Series, the fact now is they haven’t won a playoff series since 2001. I was a senior in high school then, now I’m almost 30.  It’s been a while.

As much as the Braves have struggled in recent years, they were incredible in the Division Series and League Championship Series during the 90s. 5-0 in NLDS and 5-3 in NLCS. The Braves were in the NLCS every year from 1991-1999. A lot of that had to do with the remarkable postseason success of John Smoltz. As soon as he went down with an arm injury that required Tommy John surgery, the Braves’ postseason success was never the same.

Power arms win in the postseason. Guys like John Smoltz, Curt Schilling, etc. This is a proven fact, everybody knows it.

The Braves construct their teams to win in the regular season. I think that is how you determine the best team honestly, I really don’t like baseball playoffs because I think a baseball champion is meant to be determined by who is the best over a long period of time. But that’s not the way it is. The best team doesn’t always win. And most of the time, the team with a power arm or two to lead them through October is who comes away as the champ.

Sometimes I think about how great the Braves pitching staff is. It’s so deep it should make them blush. But it’s filled with guys who are perfect for the regular season but don’t hold up in the postseason. No real power arms, no true ace. They may win a game or two, but it makes winning a series really tough.

The way to give yourself the best chance to win it all is to get two power arms, a la the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. That would be really tough to pull off, probably impossible. And the risk of putting all your eggs in two pitcher’s baskets is they suck out all of your payroll and if one of them gets hurt (or even if neither of them get hurt) you might not even make the playoffs depending on how your 3-5 starters are. So I’d just like to see the Braves go all in on one guy.

David Price is probably that guy this offseason. He’s an elite power pitcher, and a lefty too. He has postseason experience and success. I would do anything to get him. Trade farm guys, current rotation guys. I’d rather trade all the arms and have Dan Uggla making a start every 5th day with Price than another B+ 1-5 starting rotation. The current construct is a lot of fun to watch all summer, but you enter October knowing there’s very little chance to advance past the first round. I really like what the Braves are doing and always have done, but I’d like to see them do what it takes to get that true ace of the pitching staff.

Topics: Atlanta Braves, Frank Wren

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  • fireboss

    In large part the Braves lack of WS titles during the streak came down to the bullpen. During the streak Bobby had 40 different pitchers earn saves and 14 earn at least 5 in a season including such luminaries as Dan Kolb, Greg McMichael, Steve Karsay, Chris Reitsma, a 36 year old Jeff Reardon and our friend Kyle (choke) Farnsworth. Bobby’s bullpen plan was, I hope they go 9. Using soft tossing Liebrandt in relief was an awful choice. In fact taking him instead of Pete Smith who at least had a decent fastball and might be useful out of the pen not well thought out.

    Back to your point and Price paired with Minor, a hopefully healthy Beachy and an older smarter Teheran pretty darn good. Minor needs the challenge, it raises his game and that game – while not Greinke or Scherzer (this year) like – has shown to be formidable. Having his former teammate from Vandy there (Price) will only push him harder to be better. I agree we need Price and almost anything should be available. _ Maybe we can send BJ back and pay 2/3 of his salary?? Nah couldn’t be that lucky