Let's chat about the Brave's pitching. There's no way I can have Matt, or probably many of you, agree with me, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'd take the Braves pitching staff over any other staff in baseball. Granted, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt are 3 of the top 10 pitchers in the game, but Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, and Derek Lowe aren't exactly slouches. For the sake of this post, let's get past the first 3 spots in the rotation and talk about starters 4 and 5.
Rodrigo Lopez was signed by the Braves in an effort to resurrect his pro career. I don't have a strong opinion on Lopez, but I do think he's shown enough of a presence to get traded to another team and compete for a fourth or fifth starters role. The Braves could use this guy if they didn't have such an embarrassment of riches on their hands, but the truth is they Braves are in a great spot and Lopez wants to be on a pro roster.
Kenshin Kawakami has been the biggest risk and biggest failure of the Frank Wren era. I don't want to say this guy doesn't have good stuff, but he's not a pro-caliber pitcher in the states. His pitches move enough, he has enough command, he has enough mound presence, but he hasn't been able to translate that to success in the major leagues. It's time to cut your losses and say goodbye to Kawakami. Just like Lopez, although I'd take Lopez any day over Kawakami, the Braves simply don't need him and he does not even come close to providing the stability nor the win factor to be the Brave's 5th starter.
Let's face it, all of these guys have been beaten out by an undrafted rookie, Brandon Beachy. Beachy has been nothing short of a WOW for the Braves. Since signing, he has been lights out, showing pin point control, dominating movement, and a demeanor well beyond his years across all levels of the organization. Beachy has no doubt won the 5th starter role this year and though he may be pitching as an audition for another team, he provides the best chance for the Braves to win now.
The catch of all of this is that the Braves have 5 including Minor and Beachy, of the top 10 pitching prospects in the game. Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, and Arodys Vizcaino waiting in the wings. Think about the future rotation that could be Hanson, Jurjjens, Minor, Beachy, Teheran or Hanson, Teheran, Minor, Vizcaino, and Delgado. Put any of those five names together and you have a 1 - 5 rotation that may be the best to ever pitch together, including the Phillies 2011 staff and the Braves staffs of the 90's. As always, this is just one man's opinion, but the future looks bright.