Patience Serves No Purpose for the Atlanta Braves Rotation


Apr 15, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Eric Stults pitches against the Miami Marlins during the fourth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

There is plenty of room to debate the Atlanta Braves offseason. Yet for the most part, the “experts” and fans alike will agree for the most part that the Braves did well in their acquisition of young talent this winter.

However, I don’t think anyone can explain the pickup of Trevor Cahill, whom the supposedly cash strapped Braves are paying $5.5 million this year. The Braves acquired Cahill and a draft pick from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a relatively low-level prospect. But why make the move?

Cahill went 3-12 with an ERA of 5.61 last season for the lowly Diamondbacks, and expected to earn a hefty sum of $12 million this season thus explaining Arizona’s eagerness to trade him. After the trade, the Braves front office was quick to point out that the 27-year old Cahill was still young and throwing the ball hard, leaving room for hope that he could regain something close to his 2010 All-Star form.

Well, through two starts in the 2015 season Cahill is 0-2 with an ERA higher than the sun. In short, he hasn’t been very good…at all. After a very short first start of the season, Cahill looked sharp in his second start before imploding in the fifth inning as he seemingly forgot how to throw strikes and was not helped by his defense.

Overall, this Atlanta Braves team has gotten off to an admirable and hopeful start at 8-5. They have had several young players display enough talent to keep them in a lot more of their games than many thought possible. That is precisely why the team absolutely cannot offer patience with the likes of Cahill and veteran journeyman Eric Stults, who’s starts haven’t been an improvement over Cahill’s.

Both starters are veterans, which is a necessary piece of any team and pitching staff. The idea is that the veterans will log innings and help keep your bullpen fresh while serving as anchors for the team’s staff. But that is not the case with either of these players which begs the question, why waste the starts on them?

Part of the way John Hart and co. have sold their incredible roster turnover this season is by talking about the stable of young pitching they acquired. Well, why not let the kids come up and pitch? Even if the results were not demonstrably better initially, the youth would offer one thing that these veterans may not: potential to improve.

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The young players most likely in the running would be Matt Wisler, Mike Foltynewicz and Manny Banuelos. All three, acquired in the offseason of change, are at AAA Gwinnett and considered “close” to major-league ready by talent evaluators. If the Atlanta Braves are willing to live and die by youth in their starting nine and the bullpen, why not in the rotation as well?

Cahill and Stults have given little confidence to anyone watching that they are capable of eating a lot of innings this season. While the youngsters may not offer that either, they would at least receive necessary major league seasoning if the team really is gearing up for a “run for the roses” in 2017.

The Braves are not strangers to relying on young players either, and in fact they have received major contributions from them in playoff runs. The infamous “baby Braves” that featured Jeff Francouer, Brian McCann and current Brave Kelly Johnson won the division in 2005.

There are undoubtedly financial components to consider regarding arbitration and minor league options for the aforementioned players as well as the money owed Cahill. Frankly though, the team owes the fans something exciting this season, does it not?

It would be a mistake for the organization to assume fans will wait around for the team to look good again if given no reason to maintain interest. (Hey, we have the Hawks to watch this summer after all!)

In the best interest of the team now and in the future, whatever it holds for the Atlanta Braves, now might be the time to go young.