Braves: A.J. Smith-Shawver bounces back in a big way for Gwinnett

MLB: JUN 09 Nationals at Braves

With Spencer Strider out for the season, the Braves must use an all-hands-on-deck approach to replace him. Losing an ace this early in the season is one of the worst things that can happen to an organization with championship aspirations, but it also provides a golden opportunity for the younger arms.

To this point, nobody has really distanced themselves. Darius Vines had a really quality start in his first appearance for the Braves this season on Monday, tossing 4.2 innings of one-run ball against the Astros. Bryce Elder has looked impressive early on in Gwinnett, and after a miserable first couple of outings, AJ Smith-Shawver bounced back in a big way on Wednesday.

In his first start of the season, the Braves top prospect didn’t even make it out of the first inning, giving up three earned runs on a couple of hits and three walks. His second appearance wasn’t much better, again giving up three earned runs, but he did at least make it through a couple of innings.

Wednesday provided a lot more promise, however. Smith-Shawver was touching 99 on the radar gun several times, and he surrendered just one earned run on two hits and a walk with three strikeouts over 4.2 innings.

That is the AJ Smith-Shawver Braves fans have become accustomed to seeing, a guy who could be an ace up their sleeve later in the season.

As noted in the tweet above, the Braves are monitoring Smith-Shawver’s workload early on this year. The hope is that it will save his best stuff for the end of the season when he’s needed most, especially with Spencer Strider on the sidelines. So, while I wouldn’t expect him in Atlanta anytime soon, it won’t be easy to keep him off the roster if he keeps looking like he did today.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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