Precisely two weeks ago from Wednesday night, the Atlanta Braves sustained a monumental loss that could not be observed in a boxscore. In losing 38-year old Tim Hudson to a broken ankle for the rest of the year, the influence of a veteran leader–both on and off the mound–escaped an Atlanta team in a frail state. The lead on the NL East was not necessarily slipping away, but with several injuries and widespread inconsistency, the Braves were highly regarded as one of the worst first-place MLB teams.
So in losing a prominent figure in Tim Hudson, whose age hardly hindered his progress in 2013, common sense would dictate that Atlanta’s troubles would only increase. Yet since that fateful Wednesday night at Citi Field, the Braves have astonishingly compiled a record of 13-1, with none other than their deprived pitching staff heading the surge.
Over this unforeseen stretch, that has featured Atlanta becoming the first team to reach 70 wins, Brave starting pitchers have combined for a 9-0 win-loss mark. Furthermore, of the last 14 games, the starting rotation posted 10 quality starts, went six or more innings in 11 of those outings, and recorded at least five strikeouts in 8 of those games.
And that’s not considering the condition of this corps of pitchers. Brandon Beachy continues to recover from Tommy John surgery, Kris Medlen has experienced a “sophomore slump” of sorts, Mike Minor has yet to land below the 4.00 ERA mark in his career, Julio Teheran began testing the waters of starting pitching only this year, and rookie Alex Wood just recently became a regular fixture in the rotation.
Not exactly a bunch you would think could undauntedly lead a once-flailing team back into baseball relevance.
And with potent bats–on the other side of the inning–still just begging to be reawakened, who’s to say Atlanta can’t firmly establish itself in the playoff picture.