The battle for the final spot in the Braves rotation figured to be between Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson, Bryce Elder, and Kolby Allard coming into Spring Training. Now, it appears none of them will be on the Opening Day roster.
Mike Soroka has yet to make his Spring Training debut. He’s been battling a hamstring injury, and there’s no way he will be ready for major-league action by Opening Day.
Kolby Allard had an impressive Spring going, but a grade-2 oblique strain stopped it in its tracks. He’ll begin the season on the IL, which presumably left Bryce Elder and Ian Anderson. That is, before the Braves surprisingly announced that both had been optioned to AAA Gwinnett.
The #Braves today optioned RHP Ian Anderson and RHP Bryce Elder to Triple-A Gwinnett. Atlanta now has 50 total players in camp.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) March 14, 2023
I thought this was a possibility, but I didn’t think the Braves would make the decision so swiftly. We are more than two weeks away from Opening Day, and the team has already seen enough.
Anderson has looked like a shell of the player that once was such a critical piece to the Braves 2021 World Series run. I was hoping a bounce-back campaign was in store this season, but nothing he showed in Spring Training suggested that was the case. His fastball velocity was down, his control was abysmal, and his secondary offerings still leave a lot to be desired. It’s fair to question where Anderson stands with the organization moving forward. He’ll have to show a lot in Gwinnett to earn his way back to Atlanta.
The move to option Bryce Elder was a little more surprising. He had a rough first outing but looked much better after that. However, it might not have anything to do with what Elder didn’t do and have everything to do with what Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd have shown thus far in Spring Training.
The former is the Braves top prospect and was the club’s 2020 first-round pick. He had a very productive season in the minors last year and has carried that success into Spring Training. Over 8.2 innings, Shuster has allowed just one run and very well could begin the year as the team’s fifth starter.
Dodd is also a candidate. He’s looked equally as impressive, outside of one outing versus the All-Star lineup from the Dominican Republic. For obvious reasons, I don’t put too much weight into that start. Against regular teams, Dodd has been nearly perfect. He’s yet to give up a run over 8.1 innings, striking out 11.
Both Shuster and Dodd deserve a roster spot, and it’s possible both could end up earning one. Kyle Wright isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the season. The Braves won’t rush him, and they could be even more comfortable giving Wright some extra rest with the way Shuster and Dodd have performed. It’s a good problem to have, and I’m excited to see what both of these young arms have in store for us in 2023.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire