At 57-45, the Atlanta Braves are in pretty good shape to make the postseason in the National League East. As good as they’ve been, the rest of the Division has been equally disappointing. The Philadelphia Phillies were expected to compete but have fallen flat on their collective face and are under .500. With a healthy and rejuvenated Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals, once considered a candidate to reach the World Series, have faltered. The Mets, in a bit of a rebuilding mode with a lot of younger players, are in fourth place. Currently, the Braves are the only team over .500 in the Division.
After losing starting pitcher Tim Hudson to a gruesome ankle injury Atlanta has gone from cruise control to panic mode. If you haven’t yet seen it, Hudson had his ankle broken after the Mets’ Eric Young, Jr. stepped on the back of his leg as he was racing for first base with the pitcher there covering. As was expected, it was announced shortly thereafter that Hudson would be out for the remainder of the season.
Thanks to their 7.5 game lead in the NL East, the Braves have more than a fighting chance to get to the postseason. However, without Hudson, their chances to advance just might decrease a bit.
With an ERA hovering around 4.00 and a modest 8-7 record, Hudson is on the downside of his career. Still, he was a solid piece to a Braves rotation that had been one of the best in the majors. Atlanta’s collective 3.34 ERA and 62 quality starts both currently rank second in the majors and Hudson was a big part of that. Despite the average numbers, he had given the club 13 quality starts – good for second on the team. His loss no doubt hurts the rotation and also could force the Braves to make a move for a starting pitcher.
Atlanta was previously rumored to desire some bullpen help, but with Hudson’s injury, a starter may become the priority now. General manager Frank Wren said as much on Wednesday and indicated that the injury will create more trade discussions.
If the Braves don’t find a suitable deal they could stand pat with the current rotation. Currently, Atlanta’s rotation consists of Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, and Kris Medlen. Alex Wood got the start on Thursday, but in giving up four runs in only 4.1 innings, wasn’t impressive. However, the Braves have Paul Maholm due back from a wrist injury in a few weeks and more importantly, Atlanta should also have Brandon Beachy back soon. Beachy was leading the league in ERA last year when he was knocked out with Tommy John surgery. Beachy recently pitched in a rehab game in Triple-A and his return will bolster the rotation. With six reasonable options for the five rotation spots, the Braves really aren’t in terrible shape.
Still, Atlanta may be inclined to add another veteran to help fill Hudson’s role as a leader. If they do, one name being mentioned already is the White Sox’ Jake Peavy. Peavy is one of the most sought after starting pitchers expected to be moved before the deadline. He was solid for Chicago on Thursday, giving up four runs over seven innings while striking out seven, picking up his eighth win of the season. The Braves, among other teams, sent a scout to the game to get a better look at Peavy up close, so he’s clearly on their radar. According to CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler, they’ve been watching him for a long time and nearly traded for him several years ago. If Atlanta adds anybody, it just might be Peavy if he can be had for the right price.
The Braves may have enough starting pitching to weather the storm, but don’t be surprised if they make a move before the deadline.