2 Atlanta Braves

April 01, 2013

Enemy Lines

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE BRAVES

B.J. Upton will be their leader, though I'd rather see him hit 30 home runs even it means a little bit lower on-base percentage. He's going to save them a ton of runs in centerfield, and he's going to drive in more.... Justin Upton looks completely healthy to me. Everything he's doing comes very easy.... Jason Heyward's swing—his path to the ball—got a lot more consistent last year. He was healthy, that's why.... They're going to strike out a lot, but they'll have a lot of power.... Their concerns have to be third base and maybe the starting pitching because they don't have a true ace. Tim Hudson is getting guys out on experience now, not on stuff. He has been for the last three years.... Kris Medlen doesn't throw 95, but he knows how to get outs. He's a miniature Greg Maddux because he can read swings so well.... Mike Minor is either fixing to be a star or he's going to be traded. Last year he was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—bad the first half and really good in the second.... Craig Kimbrel is the best closer in the game. His stuff is plus-plus, and his makeup is plus-plus. He doesn't get scared and he throws strikes.... Kimbrel, Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters, Luis Avilan and Jordan Walden—that is one hell of a bullpen. That's the reason the Nationals had to get Rafael Soriano—they had to match up with the Braves' pen. If Atlanta is ahead of you in the sixth inning, there's a good chance that the game's over. If the Braves get a little bit more offense, they could win it all.

The Lineup

2013 Projected Statistics

MANAGER FREDI GONZALEZ

Third season with the Braves

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ROTATION W ERA WHIP K/9
RH TIM HUDSON 15 3.35 1.18 5.7
RH KRIS MEDLEN 15 2.64 1.05 7.9
LH MIKE MINOR 11 3.74 1.19 8.4
LH PAUL MAHOLM 10 3.72 1.30 6.0
RH JULIO TEHERAN (R) 12 3.90 1.23 7.4
BULLPEN SV ERA WHIP K/9
RH CRAIG KIMBREL 41 1.54 0.84 15.6
LH ERIC O'FLAHERTY 0 1.92 1.13 7.5

NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE

LINEUPS AND STAT PROJECTIONS BY ROTOWIRE.COM

The K Meter

Percentage of 2012 plate appearances that ended with a strikeout, and major league rank

BY HITTERS | 21.0% | 24TH

BY PITCHERS | 20.6% | 10TH

Best Case

The second-best team in the NL, perhaps the majors, gets the offensive jolt it needs from the Brothers Upton.

Worst Case

The Uptons underachieve, a middling-strikeout rotation struggles and Washington runs away with the East by July.

Ted Keith has more on the Braves at SI.com/mlb

Modest Proposal

Craig Kimbrel is a member of a class that burns fast and hot: Many of his hard-throwing predecessors who began their careers by striking out 30% or more of the batters they faced—such as Rob Dibble, Jose Valverde and Francisco Rodriguez—peaked early before slipping or washing out. Kimbrel, 24, has nowhere to go but down after starting his career with a 1.46 ERA, 283 strikeouts and a 45.3% K rate in 1601/3 innings. It's the perfect time to trade him for an asset that has more value than a save specialist. The Braves could deal Kimbrel to the closerless Tigers for third base prospect Nick Castellanos, who is blocked by Miguel Cabrera, and fill a lineup hole for the next six years. Replacing Kimbrel isn't as crazy as you might think. Atlanta has a deep bullpen behind him. And year after year teams prove that the value of an established closer is vastly overrated. Trading Kimbrel would take advantage of the disconnect between a closer's real and perceived value while getting the Braves out from under a high-risk asset they've already gotten peak value from.

PHOTOCHUCK SOLOMON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (UPTON)Justin Upton PHOTOPOUYA DIANAT FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (KIMBREL)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)