Beginning today and going through Thursday, the Braves are hosting open workouts — which fans can attend — as they gear up for the postseason. Fans that were in the building today got the opportunity to watch Max Fried take the mound, who pitched five innings and threw 76 pitches. The Braves aren’t going to comment on his status leading up to the NLDS, but it’s fair to assume he will be available to start one of the first two games at Truist Park.
However, perhaps the most intriguing development today centered around 20-year-old rookie AJ Smith-Shawver. He was on the bump opposite of Fried and was dealing all day, finishing five scoreless innings and striking out five.
AJ Smith-Shawver threw 75 pitches and did not allow a run over his 5 innings of work.
Collin McHugh is taking over for Max Fried, who threw 76 pitches in 5 IP in advance of what is expected to be a Game 2 start in the NLDS for the #Braves.
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) October 3, 2023
Smith-Shawver only allowed one hit and two walks on the evening. It is likely the last impression he’ll leave on the Braves brass ahead of the NLDS, and it was a damn good one.
The Braves might not trust the ball in the hands of a 20-year-old with only six MLB appearances under his belt, but Smith-Shawver has been extremely impressive in most of his major league outings. Plus, he finished the season strong.
After Max Fried, Kyle Wright, and Spencer Strider, the Braves don’t have any starting pitchers with postseason experience. Smith-Shawver’s age might be a concern, but in terms of upside, his stuff is deserving of being on the postseason roster, whether they decide to use him or not.
The possibility of utilizing the combination of him and Wright for a couple of innings each in a Game 3 scenario no longer seems so far-fetched. In fact, that’s what I’m beginning to expect, but we will see how others perform over the course of these next two days.
Photo: Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire