ATLANTA -- There are a number of questions surrounding the eventual makeup and capability of the Braves' rotation, and the answers will significantly influence how soon the club might once again be considered a postseason contender.
Julio Teheran and Brandon McCarthy, who was acquired from the Dodgers in December, stand as the only members of the projected rotation who have spent an entire season at the Major League level. They will be tasked with providing stability in a young rotation that should also include Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb.
Luiz Gohara, Max Fried, Lucas Sims, Mike Soroka and Kolby Allard will come to Spring Training with a chance to either open the season as the fifth starter or at least prove how close they are to establishing themselves as mainstays in Atlanta's rotation.
Below is a look at how the Braves' rotation might look at the start of the season:
ROTATION IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Julio Teheran, RHP
Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
Brandon McCarthy, RHP
Sean Newcomb, LHP
Luiz Gohara, LHP
Though the rotation lacks a legitimate frontline starter, it will include a few young pitchers capable of earning that description. This will be an important season for Foltynewicz, who has spent the past three years mixing growing pains with encouraging productive stretches. Newcomb and Gohara will attempt to build off of last year's big league experience while knowing Fried and Sims have also shown they are capable of pitching in the Majors. Waiting in the wings will be Soroka and Allard, who are arguably the top two pitching prospects the organization has developed since the rebuild began after the 2014 season.
McCarthy and Teheran are the only rotation pieces who have made more than 65 career starts, and Foltynewicz is the only other projected member who has made at least 20 starts. McCarthy has totaled just 29 starts over the past three seasons, and injuries prevented him from staying in the Dodgers' rotation for last season's final two months. But the Braves remain hopeful he can provide approximately 150 innings this year. Teheran notched a 3.63 ERA over his inconsistent past four seasons, but the 4.11 Fielding Independent Pitching mark he's produced in that span seems more indicative of his potential value.
WHAT COULD CHANGE
General manager Alex Anthopoulos has not ruled out adding another starting pitcher, and there remains a possibility Teheran could be traded at some point this year. If the Braves are going to become serious contenders in 2019, they will need to either acquire a frontline starter within the next year or have a couple of their young starters make significant strides this season.
Though it appears Newcomb and Gohara are the most likely candidates to fill the final rotation spots out of Spring Training, manager Brian Snitker has said he is looking forward to the competition that will unfold. Sims and Fried both got a taste of success at the big league level last year. Soroka might not be deemed ready at the start of the season, but the polished 20-year-old Canadian will likely make it hard to keep him at the Triple-A level past the end of May.