As much as the vast Phillies fanbase might not want to admit it, the Phils are a quickly-ageing team. Built to win now, the Phillies are one of baseball’s oldest teams. The ravages of time will no doubt take their toll on the Phillies but the youth of division-rivals the Atlanta Braves might just speed up the descent.
Braves GM Frank Wren deserves a lot of credit for holding on to nearly all his young pitchers, creating one of the best rotations in baseball – not to mention one of the youngest. Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens might have the most exposure but the Phillies themselves get an up-close and personal look at Brandon Beachy: potentially the best of the bunch.
Though Beachy missed six weeks with an oblique strain in May, he still has a great season in the works. More than 120 innings of 3.40 FIP baseball, striking out more than 10 per 9 innings. Beachy sits tied with Brandon Morrow and Michael Pineada as the league leader in swinging strike rate (min. 120 innings.) Beachy’s control is excellent also, walking just 7% of his batters faced. That K/BB ratio puts him in pretty exclusive company, with similar numbers to David Price and James Shields.
The Braves feel Beachy still has a lot of growth before he reaches his ceiling, as the Wren Bird told Dave O’Brien of the AJC today:
“He’s got an interesting mix now, where he can spot the fastball and he can also elevate it,” Wren said. “He gets a lot of strikeouts on fastballs he elevates. … I don’t know that you ever know what to expect.
Braves catcher David Ross notes Beachy continually looks to expand on his arsenal, developing new pitches to give him new weapons against both lefties and righties:
“He really developed a slider in spring training. Last year he was fastball, big curveball and change-up. Now he’s added a slider to that mix. And he’s even throwing a sinker now, which makes him better. He’s constantly trying to get better. He’s not complacent.”
The emergence of Beachy and Minor give the Braves all manner of options for the future. If the team can free themselves of Derek Lowe’s (entirely reasonable and well-earned) contract, they won’t miss the innings while freeing up some money to upgrade other positions and/or retain the specific talents of Michael Bourn. The future is brighter in Atlanta than anywhere else in the National League East.