Here are two groups of players who pitched for the Braves this season.
The former group includes Braves farm products, the latter group are pitchers whom the Braves brought in from elsewhere. Yes, I know that Smoltz spent some time in the Tigers organization, and some of the non-Braves group have put in short stints in the minors with the Braves, but I want to keep this simple. The lists reveal an unsettling trend for Braves fans: most of the decent pitching is coming from the outside. And the bad news continues as any potential help is too far down in the organization to count on.
I’ve heard a good bit of grumbling among Braves fans about Roger McDowell, but I’m not sure there is much to complain about. The Braves are tied for fourth in the NL ERA and the pitching staff has an ERA+ of 105. As ugly as some of the Braves pitching has been with the fourth and fifth starter spots, the team has survived. Yes, it would be nice if some of the younger products had performed better, but looking at this pattern, I’m not so sure it’s McDowell’s fault. With the sea of ill-will that followed Leo Mazzone out of town, we heard similar complaints about his inability to work with young pitchers. But, now I wonder if the problem has more to do with deficiencies in instruction or scouting of pitchers.
I believe Roger received a big vote of confidence when Davies was traded. If the front office considered McDowell the problem, I don’t think they would have moved Kyle. The Braves need young and cheap starters more than old and expensive relievers. The Braves gave up on Davies, not their pitching coach. I will not be surprised if some minor league pitching instructors move on after the season.