Mon 23/03/2015 - 05:05 EDT

Atlanta Braves 2015 Season Preview

Atlanta Braves 2015 Season Preview
A collapse down the stretch turned a promising 2014 season into a disaster. With the Braves doing some serious house cleaning this offseason, the 2015 season will be focused on rebuilding around a talented pitching core, not competing for the playoffs.

Futures

Odds To Win Division: +1600

Odds To Win NL Pennant: 33/1

Odds To Win World Series: 66/1

Regular Season Win Total: 73.5

Most Significant Offseason Changes

Biggest Additions: 

Nick Markakis, RF

Eric Young Jr., LF

Johnny Gomes, LF

Jose Veras, RP

Eric Stults, SP

Alberto Callaspo, 2B

Shelby Miller, SP

Biggest Losses:

Evan Gettis, C

Ervin Santana, SP

Justin Upton, LF

Brandon Beachy, SP

Gavin Floyd, SP

Kris Medlen, SP

They’ll Be Successful If…

The young pitching staff should continue to impress in 2015. Julio Teheran and Alex Wood both had great seasons in 2014, each posting a sub 3.00 ERA. Teheran has cemented himself as the Braves ace, coming off an impressive 4 change games and 2 shutouts in 2014. The addition of Shelby Miller and Mike Minor expected to rebound from a pedestrian 2014 season will help round out a pitching staff depleted by offseason losses. To pair with the starting rotation, the Braves have one of the best closers in Craig Kimbrel (1.61 ERA and 47 saves). With the aforementioned players all being 27 or younger at the start of the season, the Braves should see development amongst the group and concentrate rebuilding their team around them.     

They’ll Be Unsuccessful If…

Outside of the Canadian, Freddie Freeman, do not expect any Braves players to hit over 20 home runs in 2015. The offseason stripped the Braves of many of their best players and the franchise is not planning for an overly successful season in 2015. With Evan Gettis and Justin Upton moving on to greener pastures, the Braves have no players on their roster who hit 20 or more home runs in 2014. Freeman had hit over 20 home runs from 2011 to 2013 and is a good bet to hit over 20 again in 2015, though it’s unlikely anyone else will. The Braves were the second lowest scoring team in 2014, average a measly 3.54 runs per game. With their two best power hitters gone, the offense will struggle again in 2015. There is a very realistic chance the Braves finish dead last in team home runs in 2015. If the pitching staff could have remained intact, the Braves may have been able to overcome their offensive shortfalls. This offseason saw the Braves say goodbye to 4 starting pitchers (though Kris Medlen did not play in 2014 due to Tommy John surgery). The remaining pitching staff has a lot of talent, but is young and inexperienced. They will help the Braves win, but their long term health and performance outweighs a handful of extra wins in 2015.   

Fantasy Bargain: Alex Wood, SP

Expect big things from the big man in 2015. After flip-flopping between starter and reliever duty in 2013 and 2014, Wood is locked in as the number two pitcher for the Braves. In his 24 starts in 2014, Wood pitched until the 7th inning or later 12 times and posted a very respectable 2.78 ERA and 8.9 strikeouts per 9 innings. Entering the 2015 season at only 24 years old, Wood should see improvement in his WHIP and post double digit wins for the second straight season.  

Outlook

With the focus this season being on rebuilding and player development, the Braves will not be much of a threat to their National League colleagues. Their roster is talented enough to keep them out of the NL basement, but don’t expect much more than a fourth place finish in the NL East.

Prediction: 4th In NL East

 

 

 

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