Braves: Predicting the Opening Day roster

soroka 2020

Spring Training is well underway, and tomorrow, the Braves will play their first exhibition game of the year. Of course, for many, this time of the year is purely focused on getting back to the basics and building up steam for the regular season. But for some, this is the most important time of the year as they battle for roster spots. The Braves are well-primed once again to win another NL East title. Let’s take a look at how their 26-man roster might look on Opening Day.

Starting Rotation

  1. Max Fried
  2. Charlie Morton
  3. Ian Anderson
  4. Drew Smyly
  5. Bryse Wilson

You might notice Mike Soroka‘s missing. I know he is going to do everything in his power to be ready for Opening Day, but I don’t see the Braves rushing him, and they shouldn’t. Atlanta has six legit major-league starters on their 40-man roster without him. Fried should receive the ball on Opening Day. After last year, he is the ace of this staff. I slotted Morton at No. 2, which should take some pressure off of Anderson. Smyly should begin the year in the rotation unless he looks downright awful in Spring Training, but the real competition here is for the fifth and final spot.

It could go to Wilson or Kyle Wright (assuming Soroka begins the season on the IL). It will come down to their Spring Training performance, and I genuinely believe it is a coin flip. However, I cannot get that Game 4 performance from last year’s NLCS out of my head, which is why I gave the edge to Wilson.

Starting Lineup

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr.
  2. Ozzie Albies
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Marcell Ozuna
  5. Travis d’Arnaud
  6. Dansby Swanson
  7. Austin Riley
  8. Cristian Pache

I don’t think there’s much to debate here. You can argue over who will be in the two-hole. I went with Albies over Swanson, but if Swanson hits like he did last year, that could change. Riley will be the team’s everyday third baseman, so get used to it. The only player I have here that might not be in the starting lineup on Opening Day is Cristian Pache. However, that would only be because the Braves are trying to manipulate his service time. He’s undoubtedly a better option than Ender Inciarte, which is why he was on the playoff roster last season and Inciarte was not.


  1. Will Smith
  2. Chris Martin
  3. Jacob Webb
  4. A.J. Minter
  5. Tyler Matzek
  6. Sean Newcomb
  7. Luke Jackson
  8. Josh Tomlin
  9. Victor Arano

The bullpen could go a number of different directions. Smith, Martin, Webb, Minter, and Matzek are locks. After that, it’s an open competition. Newcomb thrived out of the ‘pen in 2019, and I think that’s where he should begin the season. Snitker can use him in low-leverage situations and long relief until he proves he can handle more high-pressure situations.

Many Braves fans might not like it, but I still believe in Jackson. He has a high-90s fastball and one of the filthiest sliders in the game. I think he’ll bounce-back from a rough 2020 campaign. Tomlin’s on the 40-man, and even though he had a difficult time last season as a starter, he has been lights out over the last two years for the Braves as a reliever. The last spot I believe will come down to Nate Jones, Arano, and Carl Edwards Jr. To me, Jones and Arano are the favorites, but I gave the edge to Arano because he’s on the 40-man, is younger and has the most upside.


  1. Alex Jackson
  2. Ender Inciarte
  3. Johan Camargo
  4. Jake Lamb

A nine-man bullpen means a four-man bench. I have Inciarte making the team. Unless he struggles mightily in Spring Training, his hefty contract almost guarantees him a spot. Camargo will serve as the super utility man, and Lamb will provide the pop off the bench as well as push Austin Riley at third base.

The backup catcher spot is up in the air. Tyler Flowers remains a free-agent, but it doesn’t appear that the Braves are interested in bringing him back. That means it will be a battle between Jackson and William Contreras, but since Contreras has yet to even log an at-bat in AAA, Jackson should be the favorite to backup d’Arnaud.


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