Braves: Kevin Gausman continues to ease rotation concerns

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48 hours ago, the Braves starting rotation was a head-scratcher. Atlanta’s starters went 1-3 in the first five games and none of them made it past the fifth inning. Julio Teheran, a player many wanted to trade before the season, was the most comforting of the bunch, a scenario that might have been acceptable in 2014. Then, Max Fried happened.

It didn’t take long for Brian Snitker to confirm that Max Fried would stay in the rotation. An easy decision after Fried retired 17 batters in a row and finished six innings in under 90 pitches. It was the best showing from a Braves’ starter all season. On the same night, Mike Foltynewicz made a rehab start in Gwinnett, throwing 56 pitches in five innings of no-hit baseball. The Braves’ Ace could be on the mound in Atlanta in ten days if things continue in this direction.

Friday, Kevin Gausman was activated off the Injured List and made his season debut against the Marlins. He walked the first two batters he faced. Then forced a double play, and from there mimicked Max Fried’s performance from the night before. He retired 14 of the next 15 batters he faced, and at one point 13 in a row. He exited after seven shutout innings with only two hits allowed and seven strikeouts.

The Braves were silent for three innings but broke out in the fourth. Freddie Freeman singled bringing Ronald Acuña to the plate with one on and nobody out. The newly signed $100 million-man broke the tie with a two-strike opposite-field homer in front of the Chop House. Tyler Flowers added another three batters later with a laser over the left field wall. Ender Inciarte brought in Dansby Swanson for the fourth run on an RBI single.

That would be all the scoring for the Braves, and all the scoring in the game for that matter. Jesse Biddle followed Kevin Gausman and pitched a clean eighth. Arodys Vizcaino provided a scare in the ninth by loading the bases but coaxed a Starlin Castro fly-out to end the game. Atlanta’s won four in a row since being swept by the Phillies to begin the season and have a nine-game home winning streak dating back to last year.

When Foltynewicz returns, the Braves will have six promising options in Folty, Gausman, Teheran, Fried, Newcomb, and Wright. The young guys are going have to show consistency, but those names should spark some confidence in the rotation going forward.

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