The Atlanta Braves were one of the first clubs in the MLB to press the issue this offseason as it pertains to free agent signings, inking deals with Darren O'Day, Will Smith, Travis d'Arnaud, and Cole Hamels before the new year.
They've since gone on to strike a deal with Marcell Ozuna, a player that many analysts view as a viable replacement in the lineup for Josh Donaldson.
In sum, the Braves are perfectly positioned for another run at the postseason, but their pitching staff will need to step up in 2020 for their dreams to become a reality. With that in mind, let's predict the five hurlers that will round out Atlanta's rotation.
5. Sean Newcomb
Newcomb will enter Spring Training as a starter, but don't be surprised if either one of Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson, or Bryse Wilson take a stranglehold on the No. 5 spot as the season progresses. Keep in mind that Newcomb excelled during his limited bullpen role in 2019. If one of the Braves youngsters can emerge as a reliable starter, they won't hesitate to convert Newcomb back to a reliever.
4. Mike Foltynewicz
Foltynewicz is one of the game's more perplexing mysteries. He's shown the potential to be a front-line starter, and his comeback last season was sensational, but he's far too inconsistent to be trusted at the top of the rotation of a team with championship aspirations. Still, having Folty as your No. 4 starter speaks volumes to Atlanta's depth.
3. Cole Hamels
The Braves landing Hamels will go down as one of the offseason's most underrated moves. He will provide much needed stability in the middle of the rotation and help cultivate the development of Mike Soroka and Max Fried. The former World Series MVP isn't the hurler he once was, and struggled with injuries and consistency with Chicago in 2019, but playing for a contender could see him muster a productive season at age 36.
2. Max Fried
The Braves have every reason to be excited about the future of Fried, who excelled in his first full season in the big leagues in 2019. The 26-year-old southpaw finished 17-6 with a 4.02 ERA and 173 punch-outs in a shade over 165 innings. Expect Fried to take another step forward in 2020.
1. Mike Soroka
Soroka's first full season in the MLB was nothing short of spectacular as he quickly established himself as Atlanta's ace. The 22-year-old right-hander was named an All-Star and finished the campaign with a 13-4 record alongside a 2.68 ERA, 1.111 WHIP, and 142 strikeouts. The Braves have no other choice but to award him the No.1 spot in their rotation, and should feel no reluctance in doing so.