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Braves Tab Randall Delgado As Fifth Starter

The Braves traded innings-eater Derek Lowe in the very first deal of the offseason because they felt they had the pitching depth to replace him. Even when Tim Hudson went down with a back injury, Atlanta still had the depth in place to fill his spot internally. Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy, and Mike Minor are locked into the top four rotation spots, meaning that fifth spot is going to one of the kids. Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the news...

Delgado, 22, made seven effective starts for the Braves last summer. He pitched to a 2.83 ERA in 35 innings, but high pitch counts had him out of the game very early. Only once did he record more than 15 outs in a game despite averaging 89 pitches per start. Baseball America ranked him as the team's third best prospect behind the man he beat out for the fifth starter's job (Julio Teheran) and the presently injured Arodys Vizcaino. They also consider him to be the 46th best prospect in baseball while Keith Law is a bit more bearish; he ranked Delgado 98th. "His best offering is a plus curveball with sharp downward bite, and he also has a solid changeup," wrote Baseball America in their subscriber-only scouting report, while also acknowledging that he needs to work on commanding his 92-94 mph fastball.

Dan Syzmborski's ZiPS system isn't Delgado's biggest fan, projecting him to pitch to a 4.74 ERA with seven wins and 121 strikeouts in 29 starts (151 2/3 innings) this summer. Nothing about that makes you want to run out and add him to your fantasy roster, and truth be told it's always tough to rely on a kid pitcher in your fantasy rotation (unless his name is Matt Moore). With Hudson due back in early-May, Delgado's time in Atlanta's rotation is limited barring another injury. Remember, Jurrjens isn't exactly My. Durable. That said, Delgado can be useful for reasons beyond his control.

The Braves' early-season schedule is favorable as far as matchups are concerned. Their off-days are spaced out, so they will need their fifth starter at least three times in the first three weeks of the season. Delgado's first starts are likely to come at Houston against the lowly Astros, against the Mets at home, then at the low-offense Dodgers in Chavez Ravine. The Mets have a sneaky good lineup, so that's probably one to aoid. You can beef up your counting stats (and possibly your ERA and WHIP) by spot-starting Delgado against the Astros and Dodgers however, and matching up against subpar offenses is the best way to deploy shaky back-end starters in fantasy leagues.


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