Braves Talk - May 14

Bill Shanks

We found out in 1995 how important pitching is to winning championships. That was the year the Braves won the World Series.

The Braves great pitching staff - led by three future Hall of Fame starting pitchers - shut down the talented offensive lineup of the Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS. The Reds were swept in four games and scored only five runs in the entire series.

Then in the World Series the Braves faced a tremendous lineup with the Cleveland Indians, who had Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga, Eddie Murray, Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome and Albert Belle.

And the pitching beat the hitting. That's how the Braves won it all.

If the Braves are to do anything special in 2020, in whatever format the team may be in, the pitching will be the key.

Even if Cole Hamels is not ready until late in the season, the rotation should be fine. 

Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Felix Hernandez and Kyle Wright will hold down the rotation.

And the bullpen looks to be in great shape. Mark Melancon, Chris Martin, Darren O'Day and Luke Jackson didn't give up a run in the Grapefruit League.

Will Smith looked great in a Braves uniform and did very well. Shane Greene may have struggled, but he got better as the spring progressed.

The pitchers looked great, like they were ready to go.

And then, the spring stopped.

But when the season starts, the Braves will have tremendous depth. They should be a favorite to do special things if the pitchers can live up to the high expectations.

Listen to The Bill Shanks Show weekdays at 3:00 p.m. ET on Middle Georgia’s ESPN. You can listen online at Follow Bill on Twitter at @billshanks and you can email him at