The Atlanta Braves stressed a need to drastically improve their starting rotation this off-season.
Infact, General Manager Frank Wren made it the team’s No. 1 off-season priority.
Last season, Braves starters were dogged with injuries so severe that it cost the team a chance to compete for a playoff spot — by mid-season.
Wren had his work cut out for him this winter and he often came up short in his pursuit of a bonafide ace. Losing out on Jake Peavy and A.J. Burnett, Wren was forced to turn his focus elsewhere.
So far, so good. In the early going, his three key off-season acquisitions have lived up to the hype.
Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami, the new additions to the rotation, along with the only remaining healthy member of last season’s staff Jair Jurrjens hold the National League’s second-best ERA (3.27) and have logged the third-most innings (88) less than a month into the season.
The ability for the starters to go deep into games has been a luxury for a bullpen that was overexposed last year. That ripple effect should prove fruitful for the entire pitching staff.
Atlanta got off to a hot 5-1 start before stumbling as of late. The team is in the midst of a 2-5 stretch. Despite the slump and some injuries to some key offensive performers, the Braves feel the early success of their starters will help them right the ship and keep them relevant throughout the season.