Braves Sign Former Padre Eric Stults

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Eric Stults is going to the Atlanta Braves, as reported by Mark Bowman of MLB.com.

The free agent lefty signed a minor league deal with the Braves Thursday with an invite to spring training and is expected to battle for the fifth spot in the Braves rotation. Stults had been with the Padres after coming over from the White Sox in 2012 and going 8-3 with a 2.92 ERA his first year in San Diego. In 2013 he was arguably the Padres best pitcher, topping 200 innings in 33  starts and coming out with a record of 11-13.

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Unfortunately, things did not break his way in 2014. With his style of the crafty lefty, he relied on control and changing speeds. If those two components are just off a little bit, it is the difference between Greg Maddux and Dontrelle Willis(insert any other pitcher who recently just gets lit up). Disaster.

As pointed out by our very own Jason Evans, last year 12.5% of his fly balls were hit for home runs which will have a dramatic effect on runs allowed. That is playing your home games in Petco Park too. He ended up the season 8-17 with an ERA over 4, yet again that doesn’t tell the full story of how his season went. Bowman reminds us that in his final 11 starts he posted a 2.74 ERA starting the first of August, so he certainly found his groove again and it seems like the Padres might’ve been the ones to take a chance on him as well.

I suppose they figured with reclamation project Josh Johnson and other starting pitchers getting stashed like Brandon Maurer along with their youngsters like Cory Luebke and Casey Kelly, it just wasn’t worth any amount of money. Stults was also the victim last year of poor run support. While of course you would figure playing on the Padres who were last in runs that would be a problem for anyone, Stults had the shortest end of the stick. He was dead last in run support in all of major league baseball with only 2.53 runs a game!

Stults fits in nicely to an Atlanta Braves rotation that certainly has a lot of youth and he could provide some good veteran leadership for the squad. By the way, with all the talk about how the Braves offense has been depleted this off-season(thank you again for Justin Upton), their pitching staff has to rank as one of the best especially when you start looking at the next five years and their youth. Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Shelby Miller, and Mike Minor as your top four is certainly a position of strength. Allowing Stults, and Michael Foltynewicz and Manny Banuelos to battle it out for the fifth spot seems like a good spot to be. For a team that lost two potential aces to TJ last season in Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, one year later they certainly do seem devastated at all by those unfortunate events.

We certainly thank Stults for his several years of service with the Padres and wish him well on his future endeavors. Starting pitching depth is always, always important, and I hope the Padres keep on eye on the lefty in case his situation changes and the Padres just need a reliable innings-eater for the team.

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