Chopcast: Braves relying on youth to carry rotation
The Atlanta Braves need a young starting rotation to come through in 2014, because the typical veteran pitchers are few and far between.
If the Opening Day staff is indeed Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood, not a single starter will have hit his 30th birthday. Of course, the pending additions of veterans like Gavin Floyd (inked as a free agent in the offseason, but recovering from Tommy John) or Freddy Garcia (re-signed to a minor league deal) over the course of the season would alter this storyline, but as it presently stands this would be the first all under-30 staff the Braves have started a season with since 1995.
Perhaps that year holds some franchise significance.
That ’95 season, the Braves leaned on Greg Maddux (age-29 season), Tom Glavine (29), John Smoltz (28), Steve Avery (25) and Kent Mercker (27) over the course of the 144-game regular season schedule, eventually taking home the World Series title. The only other pitchers to log starts for Atlanta that season — Jason Schmidt and Matt Murray — weren’t even 26 years old. Murray started his first (and only) game of his career just two days after his 25th birthday.
Any comparison to those names comes with a warning label — "Future Hall Of Famers Help Win Ballgames" — but it’s worth mentioning that relying on talented young players is not a fruitless endeavor. It can be done. Minor proved himself to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher last season. Teheran enjoyed one of the best rookie seasons the franchise has seen from a pitcher in quite some time. Medlen found his rhythm as the season progressed. Beachy says he’s healthy and Wood, after pockets of brilliance as a rookie, is looking for a defined role.
Sure, a veteran presence at some point during the season is expected, but the lion’s share of the workload will fall on the sub-30 guys. How will they handle it? Our writers — Zach Dillard, Cory McCartney and Jay Clemons — discuss that storyline and more in the Chopcast’s rotation preview: