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Sep 14, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton (8) waits on deck against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Padres 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves News 3/24

8 Days Until Opening Day for the Atlanta Braves!!!

CBS Sports

Braves’ Garcia looks sharp after 2 poor outings

Freddy Garcia bounced back from two rough outings, allowing two hits while pitching into the sixth inning Sunday as the Atlanta Braves beat a New York Mets‘ split-squad 4-1 on Sunday.

Justin Upton homered for the Braves while Freddie Freeman and B.J. Uptoneach were 2 for 3 with an extra-base hit and a walk.

Garcia, bidding begin the season as the No. 3 starter in the Braves’ injury-depleted rotation, had allowed 10 runs over 6 2-3 innings in his previous two starts. But the veteran right-hander kept the Mets off balance with his assortment of pitches as he struck out four and walked one in 5 1-3 innings. He allowed an unearned run.

”My last couple of starts I don’t pitch that great, so I need to show I can get people out,” said the 37-year-old right-hander. ”I skip one start. Now I’m refreshed.”

The Braves have to make a decision soon on Garcia, who can opt out of his minor league deal Tuesday if he isn’t guaranteed a spot on the 25-man roster.

Although manager Fredi Gonzalez praised Garcia’s outing, he remained noncommittal about his rotation past opening starter Julio Teheran.

”We’ve got a few days,” Gonzalez said.

 

Rant Sports

David Hale Could Be Decent Fifth Starter For Atlanta Braves

One pitcher who is most likely to take one of those open spots will be youngster David Hale. The Princeton University graduate isn’t the least likely of the pitchers to make the Opening Day roster (that belongs to Gus Schlosser), but he didn’t have much of a chance of making the roster without the injuries this spring.

Mar 14, 2014; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher David Hale (57) against the Tampa Bay Rays at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Hale, who is due to turn 26 this season, has only been in the major leagues to pitch in two games, doing very well in that time. However, in the minor leagues, he’s been a guy that didn’t strike out many batters and used his stuff around the strike zone to use his defense. He gives up around nine hits per nine innings, yet has walked 3.5 batters per nine innings.

One thing that stands out is that he’s never given up an average of one home run per nine innings. That’s a very telling stat, seeing that when he does give up hits, the ball usually stays in the ballpark.

This spring, Hale has had his struggles, tallying nine strikeouts and five walks in 12.1 innings. However, most of this can be attributed to possible rust and just getting into the rhythm of pitching to live batters.

As a lower rotation starter, Hale could be a safe bet. With a full defense behind him that has multiple players that could win gold glove awards, the way he pitches could be a good thing for the team. For the most part, he’ll be a decent pitcher to be a No. 4 or No. 5 starter in the rotation until Ervin Santana and Minor make their appearances into the rotation.

 

The Fake Baseball

2014 Atlanta Braves Fantasy Outlook

Key Injuries

Coming into 2014 with a healthy Brandon Beachy and newly signed Gavin Floyd, Atlanta was once again going to have a deep rotation that would closely match the division rival Nationals. Unfortunately, spring training has wreaked havoc on the Braves starters, as Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy visited Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Pitchers hearing the name Dr. James Andrews is like hyenas hearing the name Mufasa. It just sends shivers down your spine. I don’t think we need to speculate any further here, as Medlen and Beachy are likely done for the year, or at least irrelevant for fantasy purposes. It’s a tough break for both guys too as they could be facing their SECOND Tommy John surgery. Just brutal.

Key Additions

The Braves quickly went out and signed Ervin Santana to a one year $14 million deal upon hearing the news on Medlen. There’s been a lot debate about whether this was a sound move by the Braves front office, but for a team that can compete for a World Series this year, it sure seemed like the right move. Further justification would come a few days after the signing when they received the news on Beachy.

Aside from the off-season signing of Floyd and the recently acquired Santana, Atlanta stayed pretty quiet on the transaction front. Focused on extending their young studs, they locked up Freeman through 2022, with an eight year, $135 million deal. I really like this signing as it will keep Freeman as the 1B in Atlanta through his age 32 season, right about the point where you would expect some diminishing returns. The Braves also locked down defensive minded SS Andrelton Simmons through 2021 for $58 million.

Hotlanta is hoping to be a hotbed of fantasy wealth in 2014.  All alliteration aside…well, there I go again. Here is the fantasy outlook for the Braves hitters in the order of the most likely opening day lineup.

 

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