2012 Atlanta Braves Player Review: The Rookie Starters

Christian Petersen

Recapping the years of Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran

Coming into the 2012 season, almost everyone cited the Braves' depth in the starting rotation as a major strength. With Brandon Beachy, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, and Mike Minor in the rotation, the Braves knew that they had insurance in Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran. Because of Tim Hudson's surgery recovery at the beginning of the season, Delgado was forced into action immediately as the Braves 5th starter. An injury to Beachy and Jurrjens' remarkable ineffectiveness forced Delgado into the rotation for a large part of the season, but with mixed results.

No one expected Delgado to replicate his 2.83 ERA for 7 starts in 2011, but in 2012 his ERA ballooned all the way up to 4.37 in 17 starts. Delgado pitched decently, but not well enough to convince the Braves that he should remain in the rotation for the entire year. The trade for Paul Maholm meant that Delgado was the odd man out, and he was demoted to AAA in the second half of the season. He came back up in the bullpen during September call-ups, but didn't start again.

Though his ERA rose, was Delgado that much different of a pitcher? A quick look at Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) shows that Delgado actually improved from 2011 to 2012. While his FIP was 5.14 in 2011, he lowered it more than a full run, to 4.07 in 2012. While he vastly outperformed his FIP in 2011, he actually under-performed it this past year. Delgado increased his K/9 from 4.63 to 7.38 and upped his groundball percentage from 38.4% to 50.2%. His home run per flyball percentage was virtually identical. All in all, it appears Delgado continued to develop in 2012, even if his ERA and record wasn't where most fans would have liked it to be. The offseason should help us to see how Delgado will be used in 2013 - he could be reinserted into the Braves rotation, traded for a bat, or sent back to AAA to start the year.

After being named the International League Pitcher of the Year in 2011 at age 20, Julio Teheran was sent back to AAA to start the 2012 season. His struggles in AAA this year, after dominating it so thoroughly last year, were well documented. Teheran basically doubled his ERA, going from 2.55 in 2011 to 5.08 in 2012. His FIP rose from 3.06 to 4.83, an alarming spike driven by an increased rate of home runs and a decreased rate of strikeouts. Teheran made one start with the Braves in 2012, and flashed promise. Unfortunately, a quick hook from Fredi Gonzalez and Chad Durbin doing Chad Durbin things made Teheran's final line uglier than it should have been. Nonetheless, Teheran showed off the fastball and curve that have made scouts drool over the past few years. Teheran, like Delgado, has many paths in front of him for 2013. He could start in the Atlanta rotation, end us as trade bait, or head back to AAA.

If I had to guess now, I'd imagine that Teheran heads back to AAA again, in an attempt to help him work things out and develop consistency. At this point, I think Delgado may be traded for a bat, as Wren has already shown us in the Dempster no-deal that Delgado is on the table.

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