Braves battle for final spot in starting rotation heating up

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To begin Spring Training, the Braves battle for the final spot in the rotation was off to a slow start, but it’s ramped up recently.

Michael Soroka entered camp with a hamstring injury, which has kept him from throwing off a mound. It doesn’t sound too serious, but he’s behind the eight-ball compared to the others.

Bryce Elder allowed three base hits to the first three batters, then gave up a grand slam. It took more than 20 pitches for Elder to record an out in his first outing, but he wasn’t too concerned.

Against the Twins, Ian Anderson surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced, walked two more in the inning, and then gave up another homer.

The best outing of the competition actually came from Kolby Allard, who tossed three quality innings with no hits, one walk, and three strikeouts on 39 pitches for the Braves last Thursday.

Thankfully, Anderson and Elder both bounced back in their second outings.

The latter only need 32 pitches to get through the Astros lineup, tossing three shutout innings and allowing just one hit and no walks, notching three strikeouts.

The former took the mound against the Yankees in the fourth inning and retired the side in order, including against Oswald Peraza and Giancarlo Stanton. Anderson came back out for the fifth and added two more strikeouts before walking Kyle Higashioka. He then struck out Jake Bauers to end the inning. The Braves’ defense let him down in the sixth inning; he finished with one hit, one unearned run, two walks, and five strikeouts in 2.1 innings.

Both were much better in their second appearances as they battle for the final spot in the rotation. If they keep looking like that, there’s a chance the Braves go to a six-man rotation at different points during the season. There’s no questioning whether Anderson and Elder are major-league ready. They’ve both proven it early on in their careers, and they will each get opportunities to pitch with the Braves this season, regardless of who wins the job out of Spring Training.

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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