Running down the rosters: Atlanta Braves

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Since finishing off one of the biggest collapses in NL history, the Braves have responded by doing absolutely nothing, at least when it comes to adding. They did trade away Derek Lowe and let shortstop Alex Gonzalez leave in free agency. But every member of the current 25-man projected roster below was in the organization last year.

Rotation
Jair Jurrjens – R
Tommy Hanson – R
Brandon Beachy – R
Mike Minor – L
Randall Delgado – R

Bullpen
Craig Kimbrel – R
Jonny Venters – L
Eric O’Flaherty – L
Arodys Vizcaino – R
Kris Medlen – R
Cristhian Martinez – R
Anthony Varvaro – R

Disabled list: Tim Hudson (R)
SP next in line: Julio Teheran (R), Medlen, Todd Redmond (R)
RP next in line: Robert Fish (L)(Rule 5), Peter Moylan (R), Adam Russell (R), Cody Gearrin (R)

It’s looking increasingly likely that Hudson, who is coming off back surgery, will miss at least the first couple of weeks of the season. The Braves can’t be too confident about the health of Jurrjens or Hanson, either. Of course, they have great depth with Delgado, Teheran and Medlen, but it’d be for the best if it’s not tested in early April.

The bullpen is also strong, with the game’s most untouchable one-two punch and Vizcaino seemingly ready to take on a big role in the sixth and seventh innings. The only spot that figures to be up for grabs is the last one, assuming Medlen isn’t needed in the rotation. Fish, who was taken from the Angels in the Rule 5 draft, could claim it over Varvaro with a strong spring.

I’m listing Moylan with the next in lines since he’s likely to spend the first month or two rehabbing following shoulder surgery. He’s back with the Braves on a minor league contract (and thus won’t be on the major league disabled list initially).

Lineup
CF Michael Bourn – L
LF Martin Prado – R
3B Chipper Jones – S
2B Dan Uggla – R
1B Freddie Freeman – L
C Brian McCann – L
RF Jason Heyward – L
SS Tyler Pastornicky – R

Bench
C David Ross – R
INF Jack Wilson – R
1B-OF Eric Hinske – L
OF Matt Diaz – R
OF Jose Constanza – L

Next in line: INF Drew Sutton (S), INF Brandon Hicks (R), INF Josh Wilson (R), OF Jordan Parraz (R), OF Luis Durango (S), OF Stefan Gartrell (R)

For the record, that’s not how I would arrange the lineup. Fredi Gonzalez, though, likes Uggla in that cleanup spot, no matter that it would make more sense to have him lower in the order breaking up the lefties. And while McCann spent much of the season hitting third and fourth, he was dropped down to sixth at the very end.

The roster here is probably set. I’d rather see them carry Sutton than Constanza, but that would leave them without a legitimate backup center fielder. Better yet, they could carry both and go with an 11-man pitching staff once Hudson is healthy. But figure the odds…

These Braves are still very much a threat in the NL East if things break right. However, I’d be more optimistic if I felt safe in projecting any of their starters to throw 200-220 innings. And if they had a different manager.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: