Braves: Bryce Elder, an arm you can trust

MLB: JUL 18 Diamondbacks at Braves

Spencer Strider gets all the national media, and rightfully so. Charlie Morton has been a steady veteran presence all season long, and of course, Max Fried is Max Fried, one of the best pitchers on the planet. But with Fried being injured for most of the season along with Kyle Wright, you could make an argument second year All-Star Bryce Elder has been the best pitcher on the Braves staff from start to finish.

Last night, the 24-year-old sinker-baller turned in another gem against the Pirates. Elder was nearly flawless until the sixth inning. After giving up a leadoff double to start the game, he forced a fly out and struck out the next two batters to leave the runner stranded. Over the next four innings, he allowed just two Pirates to reach base, racking up strikeouts in bunches.

Elder’s only blemish came in the sixth when Jack Suwinski sent a two-run shot into the bleachers with two outs, but by that time, the game was well out of hand. He would come back out for the seventh and set down the Pirates in order, punching out two on the way to setting a new career-high for strikeouts with nine.

Elder doesn’t even have 40 major-league starts under his belt, but it’s not too early to call this a vintage performance. This is who he has been all season, pitching to contact and going deep into games while limiting hard contact and damage.

There have been a lot of doubters along the way, and I would be lying if I said I sometimes questioned if regression would eventually smack Bryce Elder in the face. He doesn’t have the flashy stuff that has taken over the modern game and has even experienced a few lumps along the way, like around the All-Star break, when he posted a gaudy 7.94 ERA over a six start stretch.

However, the young man just straight up knows how to sling it. Since then, Elder boasts a 2.30 ERA in his last five starts, including a six inning gem on the road against the Dodgers in which he allowed just one run. He locates his pitches, doesn’t walk batters, and limits the damage whenever he finds himself in a jam as well as any young pitcher in the game.

Some might call it luck, but you don’t get lucky over a 38 games sample size. Elder now owns a career. 3.33 ERA at the age of 24. He’s solidified his spot as a playoff starter, and not just any playoff starter, one the Braves can trust.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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