The Atlanta Braves put together another horrid season in 2016. They followed up their 67-95 record in 2015 with a 68-93 in 2016, but with spring comes a new chapter, and a fresh start. Spring training games are already underway, and here are three stories to keep an eye on as we get closer to Opening Day.
A lot of people focus on prospects trying to make the big league club during spring training. They want to be the newcomers on the team, and make a name for themselves. However the newcomers on the Braves to watch this spring are far from prospects.
Veterans R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon, and Jaime Garcia were acquired this offseason to bolster a struggling rotation. Between the three they have 115 years of age and 41 seasons of major league experience, more than almost the entire roster combined. On a team with tons of uncertainty, these three guys will be called upon to eat a solid amount of innings, and provide a veteran presence in the clubhouse.
- R.A. Dickey – Dickey will be returning to the National League for the first time since winning the NL Cy Young Award with the New York Mets in 2012. Since then, age has caught up with Dickey, resulting in a 49-52 record with a 4.05 ERA over four seasons in Toronto. The 42-year-old has pitched in 30 games in eight of the last nine seasons and could benefit from returning to the NL in 2017.
- Bartolo Colon – Colon, now 43, will have the same role as Dickey, as the two expect to be inning-eaters for the Braves. Colon has been an ageless wonder over the past few seasons with the Mets. He’s reached the 190 inning mark in each of the last four seasons and hasn’t posted a WHIP above 1.240. He’s shown no signs of slowing and should have no problem reaching 30 starts again this season.
- Jaime Garcia – Garcia, the youngest of the three at 30-years-old, is coming off of his worst season as a major leaguer. He went 10-13 with a 4.67 ERA and a 1.375 WHIP with the St. Louis Cardinals. These aren’t impressive numbers by any means, but Garcia isn’t far removed from the 2.43 ERA and 1.05 WHIP he posted in 2015. The Braves aren’t expecting him to post those kind of numbers, but if he can reach the 170 innings mark once again he’ll be a valuable part of the Braves’ rotation.
The Braves aren’t expected to compete in the NL East just yet, but they appear to be on the right track. While their rotation isn’t what you would call top-notch, it’s much better than a lot of other teams in the middle of a rebuild. These three guys should provide quality outings day in and day out, and help get the Braves closer to competing once again.