Bryce Elder is not a name that you would have counted on being a top contributor for the Braves when Spring Training ended. However, that has been exactly the case so far in 2023, and the Braves have needed his performance in a big way. In the middle of Spring Training, Elder was optioned down to AAA alongside Ian Anderson. After making a few good starts for the team last season, it was a surprising move to many.
After Max Fried went down with a hamstring injury on Opening Day, Elder was called back up to the show. Most people, myself included, expected maybe a couple of starts to hold down the fort until Fried returned. Instead, Elder has been one of the team’s most reliable arms, boasting the second highest WAR of all Braves pitchers, only behind Spencer Strider.
Last Friday night, Elder did a brilliant job keeping the Mariners at bay while the Braves offense was cold against another Bryce, Seattle’s Bryce Miller. After a first inning that saw the Braves score a run, they were held in check until the seventh inning. Elder dazzled, with six innings of two-run ball.
Friday marked Elder’s 14th straight start of five innings or more. Eating innings is already a plus for a rotation that is missing both Fried and Kyle Wright, but doing so with quality starts is an even bigger relief for the Braves. While his Baseball Savant page may suggest otherwise, Bryce has shown incredible stuff, including his filthy sinker. He now owns an ERA of 2.06, good for fifth in all of Major League Baseball.
If Elder can keep this up, he will likely be a National League All-Star. With each passing start, he is a crushing a new narrative. Many thought his initial success in the majors was due mostly to playing the Nationals and Marlins over and over again. However, that argument has lost all of its merit this season after facing good lineups such as Seattle, Houston, Toronto and Baltimore in recent starts. Elder may not dominate with velocity, but he knows how to pitch, which has been fun to watch in the league that has become so hyper-focused on high-powered arms.
Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire
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