Braves: Spencer Schwellenbach shows promise in MLB debut

Braves Spencer Schwellenbach

Even though the Braves now sit 31-22, fans are looking everywhere for a beacon of hope. Between a litany of injuries and more than underwhelming offense over the last month-plus, this isn’t how anyone expected Atlanta’s 2024 campaign to go following back-to-back 100 win seasons.

Wednesday provided a brief bit of that. Per usual, the offense was dormant, scoring only two runs. No club is going to win many games that way, and yesterday was no different. However, Braves Country did get a look at one of the team’s top prospects, Spencer Schwellenbach, who made his MLB debut.

Schwellenbach, a second-round pick out of Nebraska in 2021, received the call up after just two starts in Mississippi in which he tossed 13 scoreless innings with 17 strikeouts. Part of it was out of desperation, because of injuries to Spencer Strider and AJ Smith-Shawver, as well as other underwhelming performances from older prospects. But this decision to bring Schwellenbach up so quickly was more about the stuff, which was on display last night.

The 23-year-old flashed a fastball that sat 96-97 all night, a cutter in the low to mid-90s, a couple of wicked breaking pitches in a curveball and slider, as well as a changeup from time to time. It was an impressive five-pitch mix that kept the Washington Nationals lineup scoreless for four innings, and perhaps his most eye-popping moment came in the second when a routine single to begin the frame got underneath Adam Duvall‘s glove, putting a runner at third with nobody out.

It was Spencer Schwellenbach’s first real welcome to the bigs moment, and he responded by forcing a weak fly out to center, a grounder to first, and a strikeout to leave the runner stranded.

The Nationals would, however, eventually breakthrough in the fifth. A leadoff double from Joey Gallo got the inning started, but things really took a turn when Schwellenbach hit the next batter in the head, who attempted to bunt. Schwellenbach was able to strikeout the next guy up, CJ Abrams, but Lane Thomas would do all of the damage with a three-run no-doubter over the left field wall to give the Nats a 3-1 lead.

Spencer Schwellenbach would finish the frame with a strikeout and groundout, giving him a line of five innings, five hits, three earned runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.

It was five innings of really promising pitching with one mistake. Which, for an MLB debut, can be seen as nothing more than a positive. Schwellenbach looked the part of a major-league pitcher, and while the Braves offense continues to struggle, they may have finally found their answer to the final spot in the rotation.

Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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