Trade Deadline Roundup – The Rotation

Seems like an odd post since we didn’t acquire a starter at the trade deadline, right? Yes, but the passing of the trade deadline signifies that the Braves’ rotation options are largely set for the rest of the year. And at this point, you have to love the bullpen, lineup, and bench for the rest of the year and into a potential playoff series.

Because that’s where we are as a team. The Great Rebuild is over. Done. Finished. I would argue The Great Rebuild officially ended when Ronald Acuna hit the grand slam in Game 3 of the NLDS. The kids had arrived. We were in the playoffs. And we just punched the juggernaut of the National League right in the face, and off of their PRECIOUS Walker Buehler to boot. But you could also make the argument The Great Rebuild ended on Wednesday afternoon. We finally cashed in some chips to get “win now” players. But that also means that for the rest of the year, what we have in the rotation is what we have. There’s no waiting on kids, there’s no speculation on who we might cash in for what. Where we are is where we are.

If you’re looking at two horses to ride for the rest of the regular season and games 1, 2, and two of 5, 6, 7 of a 7-game postseason series, you have to love Dallas Keuchel and Mike Soroka. I’m not sure if they match up with Hyun Jin Rui and Clayton Kershaw, but with the totality of the roster, you have to think they’re going to keep you in the ballgame and let the rest of the team do some work. From there, it’s difficult. That’s why I’m going to focus on spots 3 through 5 in the rotation.

And while doing that, let me acknowledge that Julio Teheran will have a place in this rotation for the rest of the year, but if we’re being honest, we’d be more comfortable with another pitcher starting the third game of a postseason series. The way I see it, the only other realistic options are Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman, and Max Fried.

It’ll be very difficult to see Kevin Gausman starting a playoff game. At this point, he’s a two-pitch pitcher, and my expectation for him for the rest of the year would be for him to be a 5th or 6th starter in the rotation, getting through the order 2 good times, and then giving way to our now deep pen. If you wanted to throw him for 3-4 innings in a postseason game, I could see that too.

So in my world, it really leaves Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz. It’d be hard for me to see how any of our top pitching prospects — Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, Bryse Wilson, or Ian Anderson — could both crack the rotation and then pitch well enough to warrant playoff consideration. As I mentioned in my recap, Fried has had 3 stretches to this season. His first 12 appearances, 10 of them starts, amounted to 56.1 IP, 51 K, 13 BB, 50 H, and a 2.88 ERA. Next stretch: 42.1 IP, 60 H, 16 BB, 46 K, 6.17 ERA. Then his most 3 starts: 16.1 IP, 14 H, 5 BB, 15 K for a 2.76 ERA. If Fried were to have a sustainable run that matches his early and most recent performance, then you would probably feel good about him matching up with a Walker Buehler in the postseason.

Folty, at this point, is the wild card to the starting pitching equation. IF — and this isn’t particularly helpful, I recognize — he could match last year’s performance, then the latter end of this post is not even relevant. You would be riding into the postseason with Keuchel, Soroka, and Folty. But it’s well-documented how terrible he’s been, and it doesn’t help that a big portion of the fanbase doesn’t like his attitude or his mindset. But I’m still a big believer in the 98 MPH fastball and wipeout slider. I’m still a big believer in the aggression of his attitude. I’m a big believer in his 8 Game Scores over 70 last year and 17 over 60. In Dallas Keuchel‘s 2015 Cy Young Award-winning season, he had 12 game scores over 70; as I said, Folty had 8 last year.

And there’s reason for optimism to go along with the laundry list of reasons for pessimism. Folty’s issue is consistency from start to start, and he’s worked on that at AAA. Since being optioned to AAA, he’s allowed 2 ER or fewer in 5 of his 6 starts. He was through 3 innings with only 40 pitches thrown in his most recent start before it was shortened by rain. If he rattled off his third 7 IP start in 6 goes, we would probably be talking about Folty joining the rotation now.

If you were willing to consolidate the options down to Fried or Folty, would you bet on being the third playoff option? If not Fried or Folty, then who?

64 thoughts on “Trade Deadline Roundup – The Rotation”

  1. My guess is that if Gausman doesn’t figure it out in the next start or 2, that he gets DFA’ed and Folty gets his shot.

  2. Someday soon I think Ian Anderson will join the rotation and, along with Soroka and Fried, will make up our top three. It’s too much even for me to believe it happens this year.

    I agree, Rob, that Soroka and Keuchel lead our post season rotation. I expect Fried to be in the third slot and Julio the fourth.

    I have no faith that Folty’s 2018 will ever be repeated. I hope but do not believe I’m wrong. Of course, I expected Gohara to be a stud this year.

  3. Luiz Gohara apparently passed through waivers. So logical thing would be to stick him back in the minors? No. Released.

    Dang.

  4. “Dang” was exactly what I just texted to a friend about this. He must have made himself unwelcome in some way.

  5. Re: Jason Heyward

    He’s found his swing again, but, and I don’t want to sound overly negative saying this, this baseball makes sluggers out of just about anybody. Just ask Ozzie. He came up last year and surprised us all by hitting 24 homers. He’s on pace to do it again. Jason Heyward should hit 20 dingers as well this year.

  6. @3 @4 My reaction exactly. After all, he was still #11 on our prospect list at mlb.com. The only thing I can think of is that the Braves had reason to believe he would never actually be healthy enough to be a MLB regular. His potential was big enough that he had top end closer possibilities, too. The shoulder probably killed him off for the Braves.

    If no one else picks him up, I sure hope his bonuses and salaries up to this point will help him get by after losing a big part of his family. His story could easily be among the most tragic of MLB prospects.

  7. @blazon from prior thread “I luv you, man”. :-)

    oh, and I’m thinking the catcher thing with DET was when we were in on Boyd and the deal got rearranged when it got focused on Greene. I can’t remember if I got that impression from something AA said or something Donny said.

  8. @7 That was something I shared from my friend. He says that the deal for Greene was agreed upon by Tuesday night but there was a second piece of the deal that the Braves were pushing that would have included Boyd and involved them sending a catcher to DET.

    I think that’s an easy one to connect with the John Ryan Murphy trade having been completed.

  9. Well, if I’m not mistaken, Goara passed through waivers, so no one did pick him up.

  10. 9 – I think that means no one claimed him on waivers, so he won’t need a 40-man roster spot. Atl then released him, so he is free to sign a minor league deal anywhere.

  11. Fried or Folty?

    Choose the athlete – the one whose at bats hold some real promise and not embarrassment. Who can run the bases, pinch hit.

    But if Folty shows us he’s back then find a way to carry them both.

  12. The thing with Gohara is, shoulder injuries are no joke. The shoulder is such a more complicated joint than an elbow or a knee (because it’s a ball and socket rather than a hinge) that the rate of complete 100% recovery is vanishingly low.

    The Luiz Gohara who threw 99 is almost certainly gone forever, and his prospect rating was just a calculated risk on his likelihood of ever being that guy again. If the team believed he still had a prayer, he wouldn’t have been released.

  13. @11 Given we’re short on lefties in the pen at the moment, I expect Fried to be moved there for the playoffs.

  14. Would we want Lucroy (just designated by tthe Angels) Could be good insurance for a catcher injury/slump.

  15. If we’re choosing between Freid or Folty, I’d take Folty for a game 3. I say that with nothing at all against Max. Folty gives the opposition a taste of a big power arm, though. Assuming Keuchel heads back out for game 4, maybe that plays havoc with their timing a bit? If it’s Tehran in game 4 the reasoning stands though.

    I’m also a fan of Folty. He’s not a bad dude it would appear. There was another guy in Atlanta awhile back who some said had some head issues named John Smoltz, and he sought some help, and that all worked out pretty well.

  16. The entire AL gets a shot at him first, then everybody except LA before it is our turn. I cant see Milwaukee or the Cardinals not claiming him first in the NL.

  17. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. Here’s a comparison from current stats of SPs between ATL and LAD. With the exception of Kershaw/Keuchel, we match up pretty darn well with the Dodgers. The rank is according to MLB rank for qualifiers for ERA. Ironic note: #43 is DeSclafani who we beat up on last night.

  18. Strange to me that the Angels couldn’t have done something like we did with JD Murphy and cash considerations. I guess no one wanted to immediately put him on their major league roster.

  19. It’s been too long since I last saw “Good Folty” for me to not choose Max Fried. Fried has had his share of struggles this year, but he is, so far, light years ahead of where Folty was. He has the poise and demeanor that I like in a big game situation.

    It’s true that John Smoltz conquered his demons, but if you had to choose between peak Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, who would you rather have on the mound in the World Series?

  20. Yeah, baseball is a game of failure. I get it. And Tyler gets it. With glove or bat, Flowers really fails this year.

  21. @20 Glavine was absolutely spectacular, but peak Smoltz was 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA in the postseason. I was super young during the Braves early 90s run, but I remember Smoltz just being absolutely clutch. So I’d probably take John. No wrong answer there though between those two.

    I just feel power arms play better in the postseason. Although if you have good Folty vs. good Max, while not Glavine vs. Smoltz, there again is no wrong answer. The trouble might be if you’re choosing between struggling Folty or Max, which may yield no good answer. If one gets hot in September I imagine that’s the guy. All things being equal I’d take the power arm however.

  22. I don’t understand Gausman not trying to develop a third pitch. As a hitter it can’t be that hard to hit him unless you really can’t handle the slider, right?

  23. Nice stroke, Austin. Nice hit, Johan. Good for you boys.

    Gausman is a graduate of the Folty school of hitting.

  24. @20

    That’s hard. Both of them threw two of the best World Series games of all time.
    Game 7 1991
    Game 6 1995

    Those guys at the top of their game on the biggest stage

  25. Not being knee jerk here, but Gausman is headed towards an early end to his season. I really think they will IL him again or DFA. They’re calling him a one-hit pitcher now…

  26. Well, on the bright side, Gausman will give us an opportunity to see some of our new bullpen additions.

  27. Damn. I left to prepare lunch for tomorrow, and come back with only one out. But no runs yet. What the hell has Gausman been doing while I was away??

  28. Maybe IL is the answer. That’s the way to get Folty out there sooner than Sept 1st. Call it mental exhaustion. Send him to a shrink.

  29. In other news, I would not have pegged Chip as being able to pronounce “Louisville” correctly (where the Reds’ AAA team is). The man contains multitudes.

  30. That is why Tomlin has been so important. No matter what inning it is, if you need a fire put out and you don’t want to use a late inning guy then Tomlin is it. He rarely fails.

    I still say we should have put our best effort into trading for Wood and Puig over the winter before signing Markakis. I wish we had never traded Alex Wood away.

  31. Donny

    …was that a brown bag lunch for work tomorrow or the start of a 3 hour preparation of epicurean luncheon delights for your distinguished guests tomorrow?

    awful game, we can’t do anything right.

  32. @46 Somewhere in between. I prepare a literal smorgasborg of lunch foods for in the boat tomorrow. A bass boat feast. Me and my fishing partner don’t suffer.

  33. Statistically, I’m going with Smoltz in the postseason, but I do see your point, Donny.

  34. Travis Demeritte had a triple, two walks and a stolen base in his major league debut, starting in RF for the Tigers. Good on him.

  35. Loved watching that triple. There’s something about Demeritte that will stick with Braves fans for a long time.

  36. Demeritte is the guy I hated to see go, but you can’t get something for nothing I suppose.

  37. How fundamental our game is in its effect on us. A pretty dreary, losing effort is transformed by those two power strokes from our kids. Suddenly the loss is not the most important thing. The future is and it’s the near future in our minds. A good metaphor for life itself, trust baseball to remind us.

    But it can work both ways. That Demeritte triple hurts, just to read about it for the first time. Then wise friends remind us of perspective, sauce for the goose AND the gander, and send him happily on his way.

  38. Kevin Gausman
    is there a Doctor in the house, man?
    guessing that we’ll persevere
    that arm, we must believe, not somewhere there but here.

  39. a third pitch, a fourth?
    best steered by the magnetic north?
    essential that the head will lead
    remaining high, let others cede.

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