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2016 MLB roster outlook: Atlanta Braves


2016 MLB roster outlook: Atlanta Braves

2015 record: 67-95, 4th place in NL East

Manager: Fredi Gonzalez, 6th season

Estimated 2016 payroll: $85 million

Key additions: CF Ender Inciarte, SP Bud Norris, INF Erick Aybar, INF Gordon Beckham, INF Kelly Johnson, RP Jim Johnson

Key losses: SS Andrelton Simmons, SP Shelby Miller, RP Edwin Jackson, RP Ross Detwiler

Projected lineup

CF Ender Inciarte
SS Erick Aybar
RF Nick Markakis
1B Freddie Freeman
3B Adonis Garcia
C A.J. Pierzynski
2B Jace Peterson
LF Michael Bourn

Projected rotation
RHP Julio Teheran
RHP Matt Wisler
LHP Manny Bañuelos
RHP Bud Norris
LHP Williams Perez

Top relievers
CL Jason Grilli
RHP Arodys Vizcaino
RHP Jim Johnson

Biggest questions entering 2016
1. Will they show progress ahead of 2017? The Braves have traded away all their best players not named Freddie or Julio in the past few years and in doing so have restocked their farm system to go younger and cheaper. The whole idea was to retool and rebuild ahead of the 2017 season, when their new stadium opens in Cobb County. Last year, however, they were terrible, and this offseason they traded Shelby Miller. The future could be bright, but this should be a big building block year for them moving forward. It would be ideal to start showing progress and generate excitement among fans for the new park.

2. Can Julio Teheran return to form? Teheran was among the best pitchers in the NL in 2013 and 2014, particularly in 2014 when he posted a 2.89 ERA across 221 innings in 33 starts. He made the All-Star team and looked like an ace, fulfilling his potential as a top prospect. But then he took a big step backward in 2015 with a 4.04 ERA and a 1.306 WHIIP in 33 games. Their rotation, and their future, looks a lot better with an effective Teheran. Without him, they are basically starting their rotation from scratch.

3. Which prospects will debut and make an impact? The short-term future of the Braves' rotation looks bleak, especially with Teheran's recent struggles. But they do have a new wave of young pitchers set to reach the majors in the next few years. Two in particular could make impacts in 2016: Sean Newcomb and Aaron Blair. Newcomb was the 15th overall pick in 2014. He is a 6-foot-5 lefty who held a 2.38 ERA in the minors last season. They acquired him in the trade that sent Andreltom Simmons to L.A. Blair came over in the Miller trade from Arizona. He is a 6-foot-5 right-hander who had a 2.92 ERA in the minor leagues in 2015. Neither projects as a top-shelf ace, but both could help accelerate the Braves' rebuilding phase if they transition quickly.

[RELATED: Nats' GM Rizzo issues a detailed defense of Papelbon]

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.