Sixteen different pitchers started a game for the Braves in 2016. Sixteen! The Braves can't afford for that to happen again next season if they hope to be competitive.
John Coppolella says the club intends to add at least two starting pitchers. Can you blame him? The 16 pitchers the Braves used to start games combined to post a 4.87 ERA, which was third-worst in MLB. A 4.71 FIP wasn't much better. Take away Julio Teheran from the equation and that number spikes to 5.20 or so.
Everyone knows how good Julio Teheran was. Mike Foltynewicz's season was a rollercoaster of ups and downs, but there was more good than bad. I think it's pretty safe to pencil him into the 2017 rotation. His upside remains as a low-end No. 2 starter, and his progressions in 2016 should make him a solid mid-rotation starter moving forward.
That leaves three spaces, and if Coppolella is to be believed, two will be brought in from outside the organization.
At the risk of rosterbating a couple hundred words, it would not surprise me if the Braves used their abundance of talent in the minors to swing a trade for a legitimate top-end starting pitcher. Think of a Chris Archer, Jose Quintana or Chris Sale. It would cost a lot, but the Braves are one of the few teams with the prospects to get it done.
The Braves say they're not ready to unload the farm, but do you really believe anything this front office says publicly given the last 24 months? I don't.
The free agent market isn't exactly strong this winter. Check out the full list of pitchers here. A couple names to keep an eye on: Jeremy Hellickson, Ivan Nova, Andrew Cashner, Doug Fister.
If I was a betting man, I'd say the Braves trade for a starter and sign another. Who those two pitchers will be is anyone's guess.
The fifth spot will likely go to someone already with the organization. The line of candidates spans around the corner and down the block. Matt Wisler, Aaron Blair, Josh Collmenter, Tyrell Jenkins, Rob Whalen, John Gant and Williams Perez are just some of the candidates. Guys like Sean Newcomb and Lucas Sims could be knocking on the door with strong springs. Here's hoping someone -- preferably Wisler or Blair -- are able to turn it around under new pitching coach Chuck Hernandez.
It's worth mentioning that the Braves could entertain trade offers for Teheran, but I can't imagine a deal being made unless a team offered a once-in-a-lifetime haul. It would cost more than what Shelby Miller brought in, especially considering the state of the pitching market and Julio's contract.
It should be a busy offseason for Coppolella and the Braves.
Stay tuned to Talking Chop for part two of the offseason questions series on Tuesday.