With 43 games left in the season, the Braves are 12.5 games up in the NL East. If you still have friends around you talking about this team slipping up and losing the division, you need to find new friends. Nobody needs that kind of negativity in their life.
The Braves are not only virtually a lock to win their sixth consecutive NL East title. They are also going to end up with a first-round bye for the second year in a row. This team is loaded with top end talent and incredible depth, which has been on display throughout the season.
The Braves have been able to withstand a bevy of injuries, particularly to their pitching staff, but with a lot of guys expected to come back, there will be some difficult decisions for Alex Anthopoulos and company when it comes to the postseason roster. Here are three guys in danger of potentially losing their spots.
From 2018-2022, McHugh was one of the best relievers in all of baseball. But at 36 years old, he hasn’t been the same guy in 2023. The surface-level numbers are alright. He owns a respectable 3.55 ERA over 37 appearances, but he’s walking almost twice as many hitters as he did last year and his strikeout rate has nearly been cut in half. If the postseason was tomorrow, he’d probably be included on the roster, but more competition is on the way in the form of Dylan Lee and Jesse Chavez, who can both go multiple innings. We’ll see how McHugh ends the season, but he’ll have to earn his way over the final six weeks.
The timing of this article could have worked out better, as Bryce Elder delivered arguably the best starting pitching performance of the season with seven shutout innings against the Yankees while allowing just one hit. However, I still don’t think it’s crazy to think he could potentially be left off the playoff roster in a couple of months.
Prior to last night, Elder had a 7.94 ERA over his last six starts. Perhaps it’s just a blip on the radar, but it’s also impossible to ignore. Regardless, I think what will really determine whether Elder makes the postseason roster is the progress of Kyle Wright. If Wright can return and start to look like himself before the postseason, he’s going to be included in the rotation. Even if he’s not fully healthy until the NLCS, it’s possible he gets the nod over Elder because of his stuff and postseason experience. The Braves only need to carry four starters, and I don’t see Elder being used in relief.
This one pains me to write. Prior to being struck in the leg by a line drive off the bat of Miguel Cabrera, Jesse Chavez was one of the most valuable relievers in baseball, posting a 1.51 ERA over 29 appearances. The 39-year-old journeyman could have received some consideration for his first All-Star appearance; however, that injury appears to be much more serious than originally anticipated. Chavez hasn’t pitched in over two months and still hasn’t started his rehab assignment. I do believe he will return at some point, but will he be the same pitcher he was pre-injury? I want Chavez on the roster, but he always seems to be the odd man out in these scenarios, and I’m afraid it could happen again.
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