The Braves will probably have the youngest starting rotation in baseball next year, and that's perfectly fine considering the rebuild. It could also be the worst rotation in the league, and paired with a lineup that has numerous holes in it, things may get ugly at times.
Julio Teheran is the only proven commodity, and he will be asked to be the club's No.1. Teheran had the worst season of his career in 2015 but showed signs of being his normal self in the second half.
Matt Wisler posted a 4.71 ERA and 4.93 FIP as a rookie over 108 innings, but he did manage to end the year on a positive note with a handful of strong starts. It's easy to forget Wisler was a top-100 prospect this time a year ago. I'm excited to see what adjustments he made after a tumultuous rookie campaign.
The book is still out on Mike Foltynewicz, the centerpiece of the Evan Gattis deal. He possesses the upside of a true No. 1 starter, though his first year in Atlanta was not a good one. Some think Foltynewicz is destined for the bullpen; as long as the Braves are rebuilding, they should give him every chance to figure it out as a starter.
Bud Norris was signed for cheap and will probably be slotted in as the No. 5 starter unless he has a horrendous spring. Norris isn't very good, but it's worth having him around to mentor the younger guys and eat innings. Kyle Kendrick is another veteran who could fill in.
The final spot could go to a handful of candidates. Aaron Blair is a top-50 arm and may begin the year in Atlanta with a strong spring. Blair already has 207 innings of experience at Double- and Triple-A. Manny Banuelos needs to stay healthy, but the upside of a solid No. 4 starter is there. Williams Perez was decent at times in 2015. Top-prospect Ryan Weber (LOL; still not sure what happened here) could also be a candidate for the job.
The real excitement for the group is in the minor leagues. Sean Newcomb (Talking Chop's No. 2 Braves prospect), Lucas Sims (No. 5) and Tyrell Jenkins (No. 11) could all see promotions to Atlanta at some point, while others such as Kolby Allard, Touki Toussaint and Max Fried will look to tear up the lower levels of the minors.
The bullpen should be better than last year.
Arodys Vizcaino should be the closer, though Fredi Gonzalez may decide to give the job to Jason Grilli should he make a full recovery from Achilles surgery. Jim Johnson, last year's eighth inning man, will be given another chance after a rough stint in Los Angeles to close 2015. Shae Simmons could also be a late-inning option once he returns from Tommy John Surgery in May or June.
The other three or four spots will be up for grabs and there will be no shortage of candidates.
Ian Krol, Matt Marksberry, Andrew McKirahan and Evan Rutckyj figure to be the primary left-handed applicants.
Daniel Winkler, Alexi Ogando, old friend David Carpenter and Casey Kelly, who was acquired for Christian Bethancourt, are just a few of the right-handed options.
There's more depth here than a year ago, and a full year of Vizcaino, Grilli and Johnson will be helpful assuming they stay healthy and aren't traded (again).