Braves make decision on their fifth starter

MLB: SEP 05 Twins at Guardians

The battle for the final spot in the rotation has been decided, as the Braves announced today that Bryce Elder has been optioned to minor-league camp, meaning Reynaldo Lopez will round out a group of really talented arms.

Elder did everything he could to make it a competitive battle, but because he has options left, Lopez always held the upper hand. His roster spot was never in question; it was just a matter of whether the Braves would use him as a reliever or starter.

Using him as a starter allows the Braves to roster another reliever that they may have had to release if they had begun the year with Elder in the rotation. Eventually, I do believe that Lopez will end up back in the bullpen. He’s been better there throughout his entire career, but it’s much easier to stretch him out to begin the year and move him back into his more typical relief role later on in the season. It’s nearly impossible to do it the other way around in the middle of the season.

At some point, we’ll likely see all three of Elder, AJ Smith-Shawver, and Hurston Waldrep start games this season. There’s also a chance Ian Anderson gets back into the mix after he recovers from the Tommy John surgery he underwent last year. The depth of the Braves staff is absolutely incredible, and it will play a huge role in them capturing a seventh straight division title.

Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

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