The Braves haven’t named a Game 3 starter yet, and Brian Snitker probably won’t make it public until a couple of hours before first pitch.
There are a few of directions Atlanta can go. Bryce Elder could get the call. He’s got the best track record over the 2023 campaign, but his struggles in the second half of the season cannot be overlooked.
They could go with an opener, as Chase mentioned. Given the Phillies powerful left-handed bats at the top of the order, Brad Hand could be an option or perhaps even A.J. Minter.
Then, there’s the rookie, A.J. Smith-Shawver. He’s made just five starts and six appearances in the big leagues, working to a 4.26 ERA but also a 6.69 FIP and 5.25 SIERA across his 25.1 innings. He’s undoubtedly the least experienced of the bunch but has the best stuff. Elder doesn’t have any postseason experience either; he did pitch an entire season, though, keeping the Braves starting rotation afloat.
But could the Braves actually send a fresh-faced 20-year-old into the teeth of Citizen’s Bank Park? Well, his teammates are confident he’ll be ready if called upon.
“He’s been killing it the past month, and velocity is up,” Minter said, via MLB.com. “Command is up. So he’s going to be a horse on the mound.”
Personally, I prefer the Braves to give Bryce Elder the start with the shortest leash humanly possible, while having A.J. Smith-Shawver ready to go at an instant. Smith-Shawver has come out of the bullpen this season, so it’s something he should be comfortable doing.
If the pair can give the Braves 4-5 innings combined while keeping the offense within striking distance, the bullpen should be able to take over from there.
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