In our previous Atlanta Braves 10 for 10’s installments, the knaves and fools, best of the infield, outfield, and relief pitching , we went through and looked at the many “Whipping Boys” and heroes of the Braves over the past decade.
Today we will look at the best Atlanta Braves starting pitchers of the decade. Just a reminder that in determining who’s the best, we followed simple criteria. If there was one player that had a great outlying year that supersedes other players, that player gets the nod. If a player has 1 great year that’s slightly better than another player who sustained success for multiple years, the latter gets the nod. If you disagree, let us know what order you would put them in. It’s almost impossible to pick just 5 with how many starters the Braves have had over the decade, so I’ll include a few honorable mentions as well.
Best of the 2010’s, Atlanta Braves Starting Pitchers, Mike Soroka
Mike Soroka: Our ace, the maple Maddux himself, Mike Soroka. Soroka’s 4.0 fWAR in 2019 was the highest number for a Braves starting pitcher in a single year for the entire decade. While a few came close, none stood above what Soroka accomplished this season. Not to mention, in 2018 his 0.6 fWAR came in just below Julio Teheran for the 6th best SP WAR on the team even though he had 150 less IP. He’s really good.
Best of the 2010’s, Atlanta Braves Starting Pitchers, Mike Foltynewicz
Since breaking into the Braves rotation in 2015, Folty has been a bit inconsistent, but has put up strong numbers. I am putting him at 2 in the rotation because of his breakout 2018 campaign. His 3.8 fWAR in 2018 put him at 2nd of the decade behind Soroka. He was worth 3.2 fWAR in 50 starts for 2016 and 2017 combined, then he finally seemed to pull it back together at the end of 2019. Folty is simply a pitcher full of potential that sometimes loses his mind on the mound. At only 28 years old, Folty has this year and next year with the Braves to prove himself before he is eligible for free agency. We’re all hoping to see the guy we saw in NLDS game 2 come 2020.
But let’s not forget one of the most entertaining things that Folty can do and that is to look absurd swinging a bat.
Best of the 2010’s, Atlanta Braves Starting Pitchers, Julio Teheran
Teheran was consistently above average in his tenure with the Braves. In his 7 full seasons he collected 13.7 fWAR with a 3.67 ERA in 1,360 IP. Julio has been the one constant in the Braves rotation in the 2010’s. While he may not have put up glamorous numbers, the Braves could rely on him giving them 1-3 fWAR every year. Unfortunately heading into the 2020s that isn’t what the Braves need anymore and they had to let Julio head west for a new journey.
Let’s not forget how great Julio was early in his career. Here’s his 2013 highlight reel, the year he finished 5th in ROY voting.
Best of the 2010’s, Atlanta Braves Starting Pitchers, Tim Hudson
Huddy was worth 8 fWAR in his 4 seasons with the Braves this decade. In 2012 he led the staff with 2.9 fWAR and 2013 looked to be heading that way as well, until a gruesome injury ended his tenure with the Braves. You may not want to watch it… I’ll embed the video below. In that 2013 season he had 1.7 fWAR in 21 starts. Extrapolating that over the last 2 months he probably would have finished with around 2.8 fWAR, finishing 2nd in the rotation between Mike Minor (3.4) and Kris Medlen (2.6). In 2010 he threw 228.2 innings and in 2011 he was the only Braves pitcher over 200 innings pitched. Huddy truly anchored this staff for the early part of the decade.
Oh yeah…he could hit, too. Thanks Bryce.
Best of the 2010’s, Atlanta Braves Starting Pitchers, Tommy Hanson
May he rest in peace; I had to include him. I had a picture of him above my bed as a teenager. He looked like a budding star early in his career, then the shoulder tendinitis and decreased velocity started to kick in. The Braves traded him for Jordan Walden after the 2012 season, but his 2010 season of 3.7 fWAR placed 3rd of the decade as he threw 202.2 innings with a 3.33 ERA. He had a strong 2011, 1.2 fWAR with a 3.60 ERA in only 130 IP, but 2012 was a struggle: 0.2 fWAR with a 4.48 ERA in 174.2 IP. After that season he struggled with the Angels and his career kind of fell off before his tragic passing in November 2015.
Here’s Tommy with one of his best outings of his career.
In 2012 Medlen had a 1.57 ERA in 138 IP, good for 3.2 fWAR. While he only started 12 games, he made 38 relief appearances and had a stellar year. He was also worth 2.4 fWAR in 2013, a 3.11 ERA in 197 IP. It was sad to see the injury problems Medlen had in his career, as he could’ve been quite a star in the MLB. I was also very fond of his bugs-bunny change-up.
In 2013 Minor pitched 204.2 innings with a 3.21 ERA worth 3.4 fWAR. His other 4 seasons with the Braves were just slightly above average. It was a huge blow to the Braves rotation when Minor went down late in the season. Medlen and Brandon Beachy had Tommy John surgeries during Spring Training 2014 and Minor joined them months later. It’s almost shocking that the 2014 Braves had 4 starters throw over 150 innings, 2 of which were over 200 innings, with those three being sidelined.
Miller only pitched for the Braves in 2015, but he held a 3.02 ERA in 205.1 IP worth 3.7 fWAR. A strong campaign good enough to garner the Braves Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte and Aaron Blair in a trade after the season.
I still wish we had never made the Hector Olivera trade. In just three seasons with the Braves, Wood was worth 6.2 fWAR as a starter (55 starts). He’s had his fair share of injury concerns, but he took off with the Dodgers in 2017 and 2018 and made us all regret what myself and many others have coined “the worst trade of the rebuild,” as it certainly didn’t help the Braves!
Thanks for reading our 10 for 10’s piece on Atlanta Braves Starting Pitchers. If you enjoyed this piece, take a look back at Mike Soroka’s 2019 Player Review.