According to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, 35-year-old lefty Eric Stults has joined the Atlanta Braves on a minor league deal for the upcoming 2015 seas0n. The deal includes an invite to spring training for the lefty, who will be competing to be the 5th starter along with several others down in Florida in less than three weeks. If Stults fails to make the rotation, he’s a possible candidate to join the bullpen, where he has some major and minor league experience throughout his career.
2014 was another normal year for Stults, as he held down a spot in the back of the Padres rotation. In 32 starts, Eric put together a 4.30 ERA inside the very pitcher friendly Petco Park along with a weak 5.7 K/9. Even though he made 32 starts, he struggled to go far into games, only accumulating 176 innings so he isn’t much of an innings eater at this point in his career. One part of Eric’s game that has continued to be strong since he broke into the league back in 2006, is his control, something that compensates for his lack of strikeouts. What hurt him a lot this past season was the 26 home runs he gave up and the 10.1 H/9 he registered. zwhen putting up numbers like that without consistent strikeouts, it’s almost impossible to find success over the course of a full season. If the former 15th round pick has any hope of being a starter for the Braves come opening day, he’ll need to cut down the amount of hits he’s giving up because his stuff alone doesn’t have the ability to raise his strikeout numbers enough to compensate for the issue.
At the moment, the other candidates for the 5th spot in the rotation for the Braves are Wandy Rodriguez, David Hale, Chien-Ming Wang, Manny Banuelos, James Russell, and Michael Foltynewicz. According to Bowman, heading into spring training, Foltynewicz and Stults seem to be the favorites likely due to the other candidates lacking upside and or consistent track record when starting as of late in the majors. A competition like this will be fun to watch since it has the ability to go so many different ways before we reach April, so it’d be smart to keep an eye on it because the final decision has a chance to leave a lasting impact.