Commentary

Braves' staff is better than Phillies'

Atlanta has far more depth behind its big arms than Philadelphia does

Updated: May 8, 2011, 1:05 PM ET
By Eno Sarris | FanGraphs
Phillies RotationMark J. Rebilas/US PresswireThe Phillies have four terrific starting pitchers. But what about the depth behind them?

It might have been the biggest story of the offseason: The Philadelphia Phillies collected four arms that collectively would challenge the best rotations in the history of the game. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels would bring them to the promised land, or so the story went.

When you look at the Phillies, it appears that they are on their way to accomplishing the mission. The team is in first place and the Big Four are firing on all cylinders. They've given up the fewest runs in the major leagues as a staff, so perhaps the case is closed: Philadelphia's rotation is the best in baseball.

Except there is a team -- in their own division, no less -- that might not be so impressed, mostly because they've got an impressive rotation of their own.

The Atlanta Braves have practically pitched the Phillies to a standstill. Philadelphia's starting rotation has a 3.14 ERA; the Braves' hurlers stand at 2.88. Their underlying statistics so far are equally impressive, even if the names Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens don't quite carry the same weight. These rotations are closer in quality than we thought.