Who Will Be The Braves Fifth Starter?


Hello again everyone! It’s just past midnight in the home of the American automobile; do you know where your aspirin are?

Well, if you were Frank Wren, you’d probably know exactly where they are by now. I’d bet you’d need them after every day that Beachy/Minor had the next round in their face-off to determine the Braves fifth starter. Granted, this is a Minor issue compared to those faced most Springs (I just couldn’t resist the pun!), it’s still the biggest issue on Wren’s plate right now and one that I bet he’s stressing over a bit.

To keep things in perspective, in most instances the choice of a fifth starter from two similar candidates is not terribly significant. It’s likely that the difference in expected wins between the two will not exceed two. And if the Braves make the playlets, there’s a reasonable chance that the fifth starter doesn’t even make the playoff roster. Where it gets interesting to me is that I think the Braves/Phillies race may be decided by less than two games. And, as evidenced by last year’s race, the Wildcard could be just as tight. So making the wrong choice could prove disastrous.

The choice will not be clear-cut, either. The numbers (which I’ll spare you from being inundated with), favor Beachy. It’s my belief that they mean very little. Sample size aside, the level of competition each has faced has been decidedly unequal, as Beachy generally has pitched the “B” game on split-squad days. Even against the “A” teams, it’s almost impossible to filter out meaningful AB’s from others. Plus, do you really care about early results when the players are mostly knocking off the rust?

I think the decision will mostly be made on other factors, especially when the results that are available aren’t truly one-sided. What does the overall body of work look like? How are things trending? What does the pitcher’s stuff look like, including side sessions? How has the pitcher responded to adversity? I could go on and on, but I think you can sense how qualitative the assessment can be.

Given all this, I think the decision may come down to this: the Braves could seriously benefit from the inclusion of a left-handed starter, given how significantly Philadelphia lists in that direction. In head to head competition, a Braves win is doubly important as it also puts a game in Philly’s lost column that day.

As such, I have to stick to my guns. I don’t know what Wren will do, but given the choice I’d pick Minor. If he struggles, Gwinnett is a very short cab ride away for Beachy.

To make it more fun, let’s throw a poll out there. Vote, then drop us a comment on why you feel the way you do. I look forward to hearing what you think!