The battle for the final spot in the Braves rotation has turned into a dogfight between two unexpected candidates — Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd. Coming into this afternoon, both players had ERAs below one, and it was Shuster’s turn to try and improve upon that on Thursday against the Mets.
Despite it being Spring Training, both the Braves and Mets put together lineups that will be very similar to what we see on Opening Day, so it was quite the challenge for Shuster, who looked up for it every step of the way.
If you missed the first few minutes of the broadcast like I did, you missed Shuster setting down the top of the Mets lineup in order. It was that quick. The Wake Forest product gave up a double in the second, but New York wasn’t able to push anything across the plate.
The only real trouble Shuster faced all afternoon came in the third. A walk and a double followed by two sacrifice flies led to two runs by the Mets, but that would be all they could muster against the former first-round pick. Shuster went on to pitch three more innings without allowing a single hit, giving him a line of six innings, two runs, two hits, two walks and two strikeouts.
The radar gun wasn’t working, so we didn’t get a look at Shuster’s velocity. But he looked in command all afternoon, and despite only striking out two, he induced many swings and misses.
After this performance against a good major-league lineup, Shuster has officially done everything he possibly can to make the major-league roster. He looks ready, and the numbers back it up. Shuster boasts a minuscule 1.45 ERA over 18.2 innings this Spring. He belongs on the Opening Day roster, and there’s a chance both he and Dodd make it if Kyle Wright begins the season on the IL.
Photographer: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire
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