Smith-Shawver, the Braves #1 prospect, made his first start since July 30th. He was on a pitch count because he is coming off injury, but he made a statement, tossing 3.2 innings of one run ball without allowing a hit.
I’m not sure the Braves will trust a 20-year-old pitcher that began the year in High-A Rome and only has six major-league appearances under his belt in a playoff series, but Smith-Shawver has been very impressive this season. His only real hiccup came in Cincinnati against a red-hot Reds team, when he allowed five earned runs over 3.1 innings, but outside of that, the kid has shoved in his other five appearances. With so many questions surrounding the Braves rotation, keeping a high upside arm like Smith-Shawver around for the NLDS might be in the cards.
Kyle Wright relieved Smith-Shawver in the fourth, making only his second relief appearance of the season, and just like the first, he looked much more like the pitcher who was a 21-game winner for the Braves a season ago. He tossed 2.1 innings, allowing one run on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Unlike Smith-Shawver, Wright’s spot on the NLDS is probably set in stone at this point due to his stuff and experience in the postseason. The question is whether he will be used as a starter or a reliever.
The Braves wrap up their season with a three-game set at Truist Park against the Nationals. They’ve already clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, as the focus turns to the postseason. A lot of tough decisions will have to be made when it comes to this pitching staff in the coming days, but it’s possible both Smith-Shawver and Kyle Wright are part of the plan in October.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire