September 2011: The Atlanta Braves hold a three-game lead for the NL Wild Card. With five left to play, the Braves promptly take a page from the playbook of the New York Mets (circa 2007-2008). They never win again. On the final day of the season, they are passed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who add insult to injury by going on to win the World Series.
So, how does the Fall of Atlanta redux impact your Fantasy Baseball Team? Think about it. It was the Braves’ offense that failed them down the stretch. They scored seven runs in five games. That’s right. They scored seven runs total in five games. To make matters worse, they scored just 3.2 runs per game the entire month of September. Hmmm…the Atlanta Braves shut completely down when it counted the most. Come to think of it. Maybe they really did take a page from the Mets’ playbook? As much as I never got over having my playoff deposit returned to me not once, but twice, in as many years, the Atlanta Braves have far more to be optimistic about then those Mets teams of the late-Aughts. They have one of Major League Baseball’s richest assortments of major-league-ready pitchers.
Fantasy Baseball owners take note! These guys are young, healthy and can throw the ball. No one really knows who these guys are yet. They can be your biggest steals on Draft Day.
Joe Sheehan of Sports Illustrated cites Julio Teheran as the most exciting of the bunch. He’s a top 10 prospect, who shredded through Triple A last year with a 2.55 ERA. He had a 122/48 strikeout-walk ratio in 25 appearances. His fastball is in the 90s and he’s got a change up. When was the last time you saw a hard-throwing rookie with 2 legitimate pitches?
There’s Mike Minor. He was effective when he was called up last August. He had a 3.83 ERA, 51 strikeouts and 15 walks in nine starts. There’s also Randall Delgado. He made seven starts for the big club last year and had a 2.83 ERA. Like Teheran, Delgado also has two pitches. His only downside, if you can call it that, is at the ripe old age of 22, he’s older than Teheran. Finally, there’s Arodys Vizcaino. Most likely to relegated to the bullpen due to the Braves’ depth, he had a 3.06 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 97 innings in the minors last year. He actually can get his fastball into the upper 90s, giving the Braves a solution to burning out their closer and setup man again this year.
The point is that these kids are good and they are not household names yet. They can bring a lot to your staff with you sacrificing nil. So, when Draft Day arrives, look to Atlanta. The Braves conceivably have the makings of another pitching dynasty. Remember a couple of newbies, named Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery? (Ah, whom are we kidding? No one remembers Steve Avery.)