The Atlanta Braves have made some interesting moves. The team has mostly relied on young talent over the last few seasons while rebuilding, but they turned the page and acquired some veterans who were once All Stars.
The Braves now have two former Cy Young winners in their rotation (Bartolo Colon & R.A. Dickey) and have acquired two other former All Stars since just before last seasons’s trade deadline (Matt Kemp & Brandon Phillips).
Both of the former Cy Young winners are over the age of 40, but if they can get 175 innings out of each of them, they will be worth their salary to mentor their young talent.
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Atlanta Braves.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 68-93
Key Additions: 2B Brandon Phillips, SP Bartolo Colon, SP R.A. Dickey, SP Jaime Garcia, SS Sean Rodriguez, C Kurt Suzuki, SP John Danks, RP Blaine Boyer, SP Luke Jackson, & RP Armando Rivero
Key Losses: C A.J. Pierzynski, RP Chris Withrow, OF Mallex Smith, SP Williams Perez, SP Tyrell Jenkins, RP John Gant, SS Daniel Castro & C Anthony Recker
Interleague Schedule: AL West
Projected Starters: Tyler Flowers, Freddie Freeman, Brandon Phillips, Adonis Garcis, Dansby Swanson, Matt Kemp, Ender Inciarte & Nick Markakis
Projected Starting Rotation: Julio Teheran, Bartolo Colon, Jaime Garcia, R.A. Dickey & Mike Foltynewicz
Closer: Jim Johnson
Fantasy Sleeper: 3B Adonis Garcia – Garcia isn’t a mega sleeper, but I do think there is value in him. Many don’t even have Garcia in their top 40 fantasy third baseman, but he will end the year with 15+ homers and won’t kill your batting average. He’s also an everyday third baseman unlike guys ahead of him like Javier Baez and Jedd Gyroko who are in utility infielder roles. You won’t win your fantasy league with Garcia on your team, but he could be a guy to keep an eye on for a streaming option or in NL-only leagues.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: SP Sean Newcomb – Newcomb is probably the most MLB-ready starter prospect in Atlanta’s farm system. They have pitchers with better ‘stuff’, but none of them will sniff the Majors this season. Newcomb has been consistent so far in the minors and has pitched very well in his 34 career Double-A starts. He will start the year in Triple-A and could be an injury away from getting his first MLB start.
Team Analysis: The Braves were once a near automatic postseason contender, but they have struggled the last few years. This is their first true rebuild in decades. They’ve made some very good one-sided trades in the last few years and things are looking up for them.
Atlanta made some weird moves by signing old veteran starters instead of opting to get their young prospects some starts this season. They went from having one of the youngest starting rotations in baseball to having the oldest. It will be interesting to see how well it works out for them. It does usually bode well for young pitchers to be around accomplished veterans.
The Braves also added some older position players in the last six months by trading for Matt Kemp at the deadline and also trading for Brandon Phillips this offseason. It seems like team president John Hart has a clear vision for the team. He will lean on veterans while his farm system matures. They may even mess around and win a few games here and there.
The Braves aren’t contenders this season and probably won’t be for a few years, but I am always interested in watching Bartolo Colon bat a few times a week.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 74.5 (Prediction: OVER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 76-86 (4th in NL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.