ATLANTA -- Along with expecting Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz to be in his rotation when the regular season begins, Braves manager Brian Snitker is hoping new acquisition Brandon McCarthy is healthy enough to fill one of the other spots.
But he's not guaranteeing anything for Luiz Gohara, Sean Newcomb or any of the other starting pitchers who will come to Spring Training with a legitimate chance to be in Atlanta's Opening Day rotation.
"[Teheran] will be in the rotation and Folty will be in the rotation, but after that, most of those guys don't have a lot of history on the back of the baseball cards. We really liked what we saw from Gohara and Max Fried. I really haven't seen much of [Mike Soroka]. I'm really excited to see him."
As things currently stand, it looks like Teheran, Foltynewicz and McCarthy will fill the rotation's first three spots. The battle for the final two spots would be waged between Gohara, Newcomb, Fried, Lucas Sims and veteran Scott Kazmir, who missed all of last season as he battled a left hip ailment and the mechanical issues that followed.
"It takes a lot of guys to get through a Major League season when you include your starters and your relievers," Snitker said. "We'll get down there, stretch some guys out and see where we're at. "
Teheran is coming off a disappointing season, and McCarthy will be looking to rebound from the struggles and issues he experienced after dislocating his left shoulder while lifting weights in May.
This will be an important year for Foltynewicz, who will attempt to prove he is better than the 4.81 ERA he has pitched to through his first 65 career starts. He's shown his tremendous potential within stretches over each of the past three seasons, but consistency has eluded him and prevented him from realizing his physical capability to become a legit frontline starter.
As of right now, the Braves do not have a proven Major League ace within their organization. But as Spring Training progresses, Foltynewicz, Gohara, Newcomb, Soroka and Kolby Allard will attempt to prove why they have been labeled as young pitchers who have the potential to earn this status.
While Soroka and Allard will likely begin this season with Triple-A Gwinnett, Newcomb will be attempting to improve the control issues that continued to plague him as he made his first 19 career appearances as a starter last year. Gohara has just five starts under his belt, but the big lefty was impressive enough in September to draw praise from Snitker and Freddie Freeman during this past weekend's Chop Fest.
"You hope [Gohara] comes into camp in good shape and ready to go," Snitker said. "He was pretty impressive last year. That stuff is real. It's top-of-the-rotation real for me. He competes. He's a big guy and he's athletic. His stuff plays. It's impressive. It makes you feel good to have him on your side."
Snitker and general manager Alex Anthopoulos have both repeatedly indicated they may choose to use some of their young starters as relievers during the upcoming season. This seems to be a good possibility for Sims, who could be used as a long man out of the bullpen. Fried could also be considered a bullpen option, but the Braves seem more likely to provide the lefty a chance to further improve his curveball and add to his development by beginning the season with Gwinnett.