5 Burning Questions to be Resolved
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Atlanta Braves pitcher David Hale (57). Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Q1: Who Will Be the 5th Starter?
Right now it’s still David Hale‘s job to lose. First backup option is probably Cody Martin. But here are the problems with those choices:
- The most innings Hale has ever pitched in a year was 146 in 2012 (AA Mississippi). Last year, he only saw 87 innings.
- The Braves can’t have too much confidence in Cody Martin: they left his exposed to the Rule 5 Draft… but somehow he’s still a Brave.
- Though I have heard James Russell‘s name as a starter candidate, I’m really not buying that. He had 5 starts in 2011, 7 in AAA in 2009. This doesn’t count the last-day-of-the-season stint last September.
Hale’s magic was still working: 3.30 ERA in 2014 (3.02 overall in the majors), but he seems to be working around hitters.
- As many walks as strikeouts in 2014
- His zone profile shows clearly that he pitches both low and to the inside to RHH; both low and away to LHH.
- Of the starters – or occasional starters, his 0.52 HR/9 rate was the lowest on the club. 58% grounder rate was lowest among all pitchers with more than 1 inning of work.
- It’s a pitch-to-contact approach that generates a low of grounders, and with a (possibly) improved infield defense, that scheme could continue to work.
Still, there’s that “depth” thing – but these kinds of results from Hale could mean that Atlanta is content to check the “risk” market for that depth. Such as…
- Brandon Beachy… we could hear about his decision as soon as today.
- Chad Billingsley. Great when healthy, but…
- Alexi Ogando. Said to be fully healthy and ready to go (a well-attended showcase was held over the weekend)
- Johan Santana. For him, it had been a shoulder injury. But now that shoulder has had extra healing time thanks to his 2014 Achilles injury.
One more point… we’ll review the bullpen a little later, but the signing of Josh Outman may have increased the chances that David Hale is pushed to the rotation and out of the bullpen.
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