Atlanta’s Embarrassment of Pitching Riches

Tim Hudson made his long awaited return from Tommy John surgery late Monday night. While he showed some rust, he performed OK over all — allowing two earned runs over 5.1 innings with 6 hits allowed and three walks, while striking out five.

Here’s his movement graph. Pitch F/x apparently forgot the scouting report on Huddy, so rather than then taking the time to manually reclassify his pitches, I just broke them down by velocity.


Still a very nice sinker, splitter, cutter and curve for Hudson. He averaged about 89 MPH with his fastball and hit up to 92, so the early returns are encouraging. Thank goodness for Dr. Jobe’s miraculous invention. But now what do the Braves do with their rotation? With Hudson’s return, the Braves now have six good starting pitchers in their rotation, an embarrassment of riches. Something has to give.

Javier Vazquez 181.1 IP – 3.18 ERA – 2.83 FIP – 48.4 RAR – 5.4 WAR
Jair Jurrjens 171 IP – 2.89 ERA – 3.75 FIP – 29.3 RAR – 3.1 WAR
Derek Lowe 164.1 IP – 4.38 ERA – 3.73 FIP – 28.6 RAR – 3 WAR
Thomas Hanson 89.2 IP – 3.15 ERA – 3.98 FIP – 13.1 RAR – 1.4 WAR
Kenshin Kawakami 142.2 IP – 3.97 ERA – 4.30 FIP – 16.3 RAR – 1.7 WAR

The odd man out is reportedly Kenshin Kawakami, who was signed as a free agent from Japan over the winter and has proven to be about what the Braves had hoped: a little better than league average. Teams would be blessed to have him as their 4th starter, he’s now the Braves’ 6th starter, making him the best swing-man in the biz.

So what do the Braves do with this wonderful problem that they have in the offseason? I know the saying goes that you never have too much pitching, but Hudson has a $12M option for next season. While that’s somewhat tempting given the fact that Huddy may now be as good as new, if the Braves decide to pick it up, that would mean they would be allocating $45M to four pitchers in their rotation. Lowe is guaranteed $15M next year. Vasquez, $11.5M. Kawakami, around $7M. With the presence of two terrific cost-controlled options of Thomas Hanson and Jair Jurrjens and the Braves in desperate need of some offense, Hudson is probably headed for free agency this year. Millions of dollars are on the line for Hudson, with just a few starts remaining.

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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

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Joe R
Joe R

Kawakami for Billy Butler straight up?

Sounds like a GMDM move to me, a 34 year old 4th starter for a guy with a .295/.349/.473 line at 23.

Or Mike Moustakas. I should be the Royals GM.