AJ Smith-Shawver shines, another homer for Sean Murphy

AJ Smith-Shawver, Braves

After a brief onslaught on Wednesday night from the Braves offense, they were back to their dormant ways on Thursday afternoon, mustering only three runs. However, as has been the case nearly every game, Atlanta’s pitching staff was brilliant, led by AJ Smith-Shawver.

Last year, it seemed like it didn’t matter who came to the plate for the Braves; they’d find a way to help the offense. That’s kind of what it’s felt like through the first two months of this season, except for the pitching staff.

Braves top prospect AJ Smith-Shawver toed the rubber for the first time in 2024. He had struggled in Gwinnett for most of the year, but nobody would have guessed that by his performance. The Braves didn’t push him too much, limiting him to just two trips through the order, but he shutout the Cubs over 4.1 innings, allowing just three hits and two walks.

Smith-Shawver left the game with a one run lead, and that would be all the Braves bullpen needed. They effortlessly mowed through the Chicago lineup, allowing just two baserunners to reach over the final 4.2 innings. With Bryce Elder now in Gwinnett, one would expect Smith-Shawver to get another opportunity next week.

On the farm, the Braves got more good news when Sean Murphy went deep for the second time in as many games for the Gwinnett Stripers.

Sean Murphy has been out since Opening Day with an oblique injury. It’s been a long road back for the All-Star catcher, but he looks just about ready to return to the show. It might not happen this weekend against the Pirates, but Monday against the Nationals at Truist Park seems like an ideal time to welcome him back to the Braves.

Photo: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

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