The Atlanta Braves made the postseason largely on the strength of their pitching. An unproven rotation and a dynamic bullpen had just enough to eke the Braves into a one game playoff with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Braves finished with a team ERA of 3.42 - good for 5th in the majors - yet finished 20th out of 30 teams in the number of quality starts provided by the rotation. This year, the Braves have to hope that they can develop a rotation that will not succumb to injuries or inconsistency as much as last year's rotation.
Tim Hudson led the squad with 16 wins last year, posting a 3.62 ERA to go with his 16-7 record. Mike Minor was an innings eater, tossing almost 180 innings to lead the team. Tommy Hanson struck out almost a batter per inning (161 K, 174.2 IP) but saw his ERA jump to the mid-4's and his WHIP just to 1.45.Hanson was traded to the Angels for Jordan Walden, who will provide set-up help in the bullpen to make that component of the team even tougher.
Beyond those three, the rotation was held together with duct tape. Brandon Beachy was good early on, but required Tommy John surgery in June. Kris Medlen moved from the bullpen to the rotation and was dazzling from July onward, but still has question marks going into a full season in the rotation. Paul Maholm, Ben Sheets, Randall Delgado, and Jair Jurrjens (now in Baltimore) split the remaining starts.
2013 could be a much bigger breakout year for the Braves' young pitchers - if they can stay healthy and piece things together.