The Atlanta Braves had a very active off-season trying to get back to the philosophy of the 90’s where pitching meant everything. The team was able to acquire a young power in Shelby Miller from the Cardinals, who were rich in pitchers and were in need of an outfielder. Jason Heyward was the perfect fit after the tragic death of Oscar Taveras. This trade was not well received from the Braves fan base because Heyward was a fan favorite and a stud defender who led the majors with 31 runs saved. Shelby Miller is just 24 years old has a power arm and a nasty cutter in his short career, he has a 30-19 record with a 3.14 ERA. Many people were surprised the Cardinals were willing to part ways with this young arm, but on paper this trade looked like a win-win for both sides when this move was made.
Why Trade Made So Much Sense
Jason Heyward was a fan favorite there is no doubt about that, but he is a free agent after this year and because of his defense ability and he is still only 25 years of age, he is going to get a pretty healthy paycheck and the Braves were not going to be able to fulfill that demand, so it’s better to get something for him now instead of nothing at all. Heyward is one of the best defenders in baseball with 2 gloves already, that will be the issue, but he still has not figured out what type of hitter he is going to be and the Braves wanted him to be the next face of the team with power average etc. and that never happened, with just a .261 career average and 87 home runs not the breakout star the team was looking for.
The team was able to find a need in the Cardinals, who needed a right fielder and get quality in return. Shelby miller is just 24 years of age power arm that is just starting his career the skies the limit for this kid. In just 2 ½ years he is 30-19 with 3.14 and 351 strikeouts a pretty good player to be able to get. His contract is very team friendly with 3 arbitration years after this year, with the team moving to a new ballpark in 2017 Miller Tehran and will be a deadly trio for many years to come. This off-season there was a clear message that the team was going back to the way of the 90’s and early 2000’s pitching and a great pipeline in the farm system. Not only Shelby Miller came from the Cardinals, but another young pitcher Tyrell Jenkins a 22 year old right hander still developing in the minors is thought to be a cornerstone in the Braves future as well.
This trade saves the club money and they were able to acquire quality young arms that will help the team for many years. The cherry on top is the fact they were able to sign veteran right fielder Nick Markakis to a 4-year deal worth 44 million dollars so basically able to trade 4 years for one and they aren’t losing anything defensively as Markakis has 2 gold gloves himself. He also gives a great at-bat every time up at the plate. This trade has so many positives and shows why Jon Hart pulled the trigger.
Miller Carrying the Rotation in 2015
The pitching was supposed to be the best part of the team this year, but outside of Miller it has been a bit shaky. The ace Julio Teheran has a 3-1 record with a 4.33 ERA, not bad, but coming off an All-Star appearance, he was expected to feed of that and be better than ever. He has used his breaking stuff too much, causing him deep counts and has to lay the fastball in there and it has gotten crushed at times. He must work off his fastball more in baseball the best pitch is a well-located fastball. He has also struggled mightily on the road posting a 5.88 ERA whereas at home, he has a stellar 2.04 ERA, he must preform like an the ace we all know to help Braves reach their full potential.
Alex wood has a 2-2 with a 3.53 ERA, he has had trouble with pitch efficiency and going deep into ballgames exposing the weakest part the team in 2015 the bullpen which is young and inexperienced with six rookies making their debuts this year. He also has struggled at home posting a 6.19 ERA and a 2.61 Era on the road. Not bad numbers overall, just need more consistency
The Trevor Cahill experience was a disaster, he started 3 games went 0-3 with an 8.03 Era he went more than 5 innings just once. He has since been moved to the bullpen as the designated long man, that has been a little better, but he is still struggling with his arm slot at times. Not the low risk, high reward type of situation the braves were hoping for when they traded for him.
Cahill has been replaced by young flamethrower Mike Foltynewicz the key piece acquired in the Evan Gattis trade this off-season. Foltynewicz is just 23 years old, he tops out at 97 MPH on his fastball he also features a put away curveball. In 3 starts, he is 2-0 with a 4.24 Era, the Era is a little inflated because the bullpen allowed a few runs to score, but he is fun to watch pitch and looks like he has the “it” to stick around and help the Braves win games for a long time.
Eric Stults was supposed to be the veteran presence at the backend of the rotation that would eat innings, which has not been the case at all. He has a 1-4 record with a 5.36 ERA and 9 home runs allowed, just nothing good he like Cahill is headed to the bullpen to try to right the ship. Williams Perez to take his rotation for the time being to try to get some consistency in that spot as well. As you can see the word to describe the rotation in 2015 is inconsistent.
Miller Reaching New Heights
Shelby Miller is in a class of his own right now and making the president of Baseball Operations Jon Hart look like a genius! He has a 5-1 record with, record with a microscopic Era of 1.33 and whip of 0.83 these are video game type numbers right now. He was the first starter to go 7 innings and that was on April 30th against the Reds, he had a 3 hit shutout against the Phillies on 99 pitches and just yesterday he was one out away from a no- hitter against the Marlins amazing to watch a break out star being born in 2015, just his 3rd year in the big leagues. Miller has also to spare the bullpen from getting even more exposed early this season, if that is not an ace I don’t know what is. The Braves sit at 18-19 right now could you imagine where they would be without Shelby Miller; I can’t and don’t want to!