In a tweet from Atlanta Braves beat-writer, Mark Bowman, Julio Teheran has been named as the Braves Opening Day starter. Bowman also reveals that the expected rotation will be a 4-man filled out by Alex Wood, Freddy Garcia, and David Hale. Lastly, he reveals that Ervin Santana “could” debut on April 9th, which is only a week and a half into the season.
What does this tell us? First, it shows the Braves understand the importance of solidifying the rotation as soon as possible. It was first speculated that Santana wouldn’t be ready until the back-end of April, then it was moved up to April 12th or 14th, depending upon the source. Now, it’s been moved up again. The Braves were the beneficiaries of having a hot start last year and that helped them coast on fumes into the playoffs and an NL East division title. It’s apparent that the Braves want that same success this year.
Secondly, it tells us that the Braves will start with 8 pitchers in the bullpen, likely opening up spots for both Anthony Varvaro and Cory Gearrin to stick around for a bit, and still have the luxury to test out a few new arms (Ian Thomas? Gus Schlosser?). However, if all goes as planned and Ervin Santana is back 10 days into the season, someone will be getting chopped or sent back to the minors.
With 8 reliever spots and 4 already taken, who would round out your bullpen? Here are my four:
ROOGY battle: Gus Schlosser vs. Cory Gearrin- both guys will be used primarily to get out right-handed hitters. Each player should be given as many opportunities to show his value and may the best ROOGY win.
LOOGY battle: Ryan Buchter vs. Ian Thomas- both of these guys will be used in the exact opposite roles of the 2 listed above. Each player should be given every opportunity to win the coveted 2nd lefty out of the ‘pen position. My money is on Ian Thomas walking away with the crown.