Brandon Beachy wins the Braves’ fifth starter’s job

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It wasn’t much talked about this spring, but one of the more interesting  job competitions was for the Braves’ fifth starter’s job. The candidates: lefty Mike Minor and right hander Brandon Beachy.  Frank Wren announced today that Beachy is the victor, with Minor being sent down to, er, the minors.

This is one of those situations in which the better overall pitcher probably lost, but did so for understandable reasons.  Minor has way more upside than than Beachy — he was a first round pick whereas Beachy was an amateur free agent — but the Braves are in win-now mode and Beachy is a more finished product. If Atlanta wasn’t poised to compete, there would be a stronger temptation to see if Minor could swim in the big rapids.

Not that Beachy is any slouch. He was called up late last year and and made three good starts as the Braves clung to the wild card. Before that he seriously impressed in 35 appearances (13 of which were starts) in AAA and AA. Minor was himself impressive across AAA and AA, though he was more shaky during his nine appearances with the big club.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see both of these guys in the Braves’ rotation over the course of the season, and they’ll probably both have permanent homes there in 2012 and beyond. But for now Atlanta has gone with Beachy. And I tend to think it’s the right move.

The Red Sox start is ridiculous

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The red-hot Red Sox completed a sweep of the previously red-hot Angels last night, outscoring them 27-3 in their three-game series. Last night’s game was, relatively speaking, a close one, with the Sox winning “only” by six runs. They did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani three times, though, so some style points help make up for the “squeaker.” Also worth noting that they held Mike Trout of all people to a 3-for-11 line in their three-game series. He did not score a single time and drove in no runs.

That series win puts the Sox at 16-2 on the year. They dropped their Opening Day game to the Rays, but then won their next six games against Tampa Bay, which I’d say makes up for it. In between those two series they swept a two-game series from the Marlins and afterwards they took two of three from the Yankees and three in a row from the Orioles. The only thing that even threatened to slow this juggernaut down is the weather, resulting in a postponement of Monday morning’s Patriot’s Day game. Somewhere in here we should notice that they’re doing this with their starting shortstop and starting second baseman on the disabled list.

As we’ve noted many times, their 16-2 record is the best start in the Red Sox’ 118-year history. It’s also the best start for any team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers began 17-1 (let us just forget, for the time being, that those Brewers lost 18 of 20 in May of that year). They are the fourth team since 1961 to win 16 of its first 18 games.

The Sox aren’t simply getting lucky here. They’ve scored 116 runs and have allowed only 50, which is a Pythagorean record of 15-3. They lead all of baseball in offense, scoring 6.44 runs a game, leading individually in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They are only three one hundredths of a run behind the Astros from leading all of baseball in pitching, allowing only 2.78 runs a game. They’re winning all of these games because, in the early going, they’ve simply been that dang much better than everyone they’ve played.

No, the Sox are not going to go 144-18, as they are currently on pace to do. Yes, they are going to find a lot more trouble in their schedule once they play the Orioles, Rays and Marlins less, play a healthier Yankees team more and face off against the Astros, the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Twins and some tougher interleague opponents. This is baseball, obviously, and no one makes it through a season without rough patches, long, short and numerous.

Still: this has been one whale of a start for Boston. Those wins are in the bank. It’s been quite the thing to see.