Tommy Hanson, The Ace

Tommy Hanson has established himself as the ace of the Atlanta Braves' pitching staff, and now we're all seeing why scouts drooled over him as a 21-year old while he made his way through the Minor League system.

When Tommy first came up to the Majors, he was more of a thrower rather than a pitcher. Sure, he could blow a few guys away with his hard fastball or filthy slider, but it seemed like would always have an inning or two which would either undo or come close to undoing a rather spectacular start.

Tommy Hanson doesn't have those innings anymore. Tommy Hanson is now a pitcher, and a damn good one at that.

After his dominating performance on Monday night, Hanson now ranks in the top-20 in Wins, K/9, BB/9, ERA, FIP, and xFIP among qualified starting pitchers in the National League. And it's not like Hanson has been incredibly lucky or anything, as his .270 BABIP shouldn't regress too much.

After Monday's start against the Astros, Hanson's ERA is 2.35 and his FIP is 2.70.

Over the course of his last 25 starts, Tommy has allowed 4 or more earned runs in three games. In those same starts, he's allowed 1 earned run or fewer in fifteen games. Hanson has thrown 160 innings in that span, and his K/BB numbers are 137/38, which comes out to an astonishing 3.60 K/BB ratio. To give you an idea of how good that is, Hanson's ratio is better than Tim Lincecum's (3.13), C.C. Sabathia's (2.68), and Felix Hernandez's (2.93) career numbers, and it's tied with Roy Halladay's. That's incredible.

During the offseason prior to the 2008 season, the Braves were determined to find an ace who would anchor their rotation for the next 5-10 years. They flirted with Jake Peavy, tried to woo A.J. Burnett and his wife to Atlanta, and eventually settled for Derek Lowe. Whether they knew it at the time or not, the Braves already had their ace, only he was dominating Minor League hitters in Mississippi instead of Atlanta.

While Hudson, Lowe, and Jair Jurrjens are no slouches, Tommy Hanson is now the bonafide ace of this pitching staff, which might be the best in baseball. There's really no questioning that. And when you think that Hanson is just 24-years old and his best days are ahead of him, it's scary to think just how dominant he could be as the ace of our rotation.

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