Braves starting staff will attempt to extend success and harness the always-dangrous Hamilton

Welcome back to the conclusion of Freak Week at Turner Field.  Three days after dealing with Jose Fernandez’s nastiness, the Braves will spend the next three days dealing with Reds rookie outfielder Billy Hamilton’s tremendous speed.

Upon popular demand, Major League Baseball has clarified the way the transfer rule should be interpreted with expanded instant replay and announced that starting tonight such plays will be ruled as they had been over the past century, minus the past four weeks.   Fortunately for the Braves, MLB has done nothing with the rule that states a player can’t steal first base.

As other opponents have seen over the past few weeks, Hamilton wreaks havoc once he steps on the basepaths.  He has tagged and advanced on fly balls hit to the shallow portion of the outfield and taken advantage of most every opportunity to steal a base.  But he has also produced a meager .266 on-base percentage through his first 21 games of the season.

Evan Gattis, who will be behind the plate tonight, gained a first-hand look at Hamilton’s speed when the two played against each other in the Southern League two years ago.  Gattis vividly remembers the stolen base Hamilton recorded against him.

“I got a good pitch and had a good chance to get him,” Gattis said. “But in that situation, I probably still don’t get him. It’s silly. He’s different. He’s a game-changer. You’ve just got to try to keep him off base. If he puts the ball in play and gets on enough, it’s silly.”

Gattis is fortunate to be part of a club that has seen its starting rotation limit opponents to a Major League-low .266 on-base percentage  (Side note:  The Reds starters rank second, having limited opponents to a .278 on-base percentage.

Yesterday’s offday story focused on how good Atlanta’s once-suspect starting rotation has been and pointed out that it has started this season more impressively than any of the great Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz rotations of yesteryear.  Here is a closer look at how this current rotation’s start ranks with those of the quintets Atlanta has used dating back to the magical 1990s.

Best ERA for Braves rotations through the first 21 games dating back to 1991:

2014  —  1.50

1997  —  2.52

1994  — 2.62

1998 —  2.63

1993 — 2.70




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