Braves have the arms to beat Nats

Washington still looks strong without Strasburg, but Atlanta has depth

Updated: September 16, 2012, 1:40 PM ET
By Eno Sarris | FanGraphs
Kris MedlenAnthony Gruppuso/US PresswireIf Kris Medlen pitches like this in the postseason, the Braves could be tough to beat.

You may have heard the Washington Nationals are suddenly without their ace as the playoffs approach. Stephen Strasburg, like it or not, will not pitch again this season.

But even without their ace, the Nationals still feature Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, Ross Detwiler and John Lannan, which is nothing to sneeze at. By FanGraphs WAR, Gonzalez is second only to Clayton Kershaw this season in the NL, meaning there are 14 other teams in the National League that would love to have the Nationals' "problem" of having Gonzalez atop the rotation. But Tommy John surgery, and its subsequent innings limit for Strasburg, still weakened the Nats' rotation by depriving it of its ace.

The Braves have a young sensation in Kris Medlen, who also had Tommy John surgery in 2010. But the Braves handled Medlen differently than Washington handled Strasburg -- Medlen began the season in the bullpen to keep his innings total down -- and now they're reaping the benefits late in the season, and Medlen's recent run has helped the Braves put up the best ERA in the NL during the past month.

While Washington still has the better rotation and plenty of pitching (even without Strasburg) to win in the postseason, the Braves have enough arms to beat the Nationals should the two teams meet in October.


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