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…

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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