The Braves rotation was lights out early in the season, but the group has looked much more vulnerable as of late.
Once the early favorite for the NL Cy Young award, Spencer Strider has been rocked in each of his last two starts. He hopes to bounce back tonight, but that is only the beginning of the Braves concerns. Charlie Morton has also been erratic at times, and after Bryce Elder, this group leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not the best situation to be in, but the Braves are currently 20 games over .500, so they have some time to wait for reinforcements.
The most notable of which will be Max Fried. He has begun throwing off a mound again, and it looks like a target date for his return could be around the All-Star break. Kyle Wright has also started to throw again, although he’s probably at least a month behind Fried in his rehabilitation.
If the Braves can get both of those guys back healthy, the rotation will be more than fine. But even if one of them suffers a setback, the Braves have a couple of options on the farm that could potentially fill in sooner rather than later.
The first is one fans will be very familiar with, Michael Soroka. The lumbering Canadian was optioned back to Gwinnett after just two starts with the major-league club. It was a little shorter of a leash than most expected, but Soroka didn’t do anything to prove he’s ready to pitch for the Braves every five days. However, in his two starts since returning to Gwinnett, he’s allowed just two runs over 12 innings. There still needs to be some fine tuning, particularly with his control, but eventually, he could be a key member of Atlanta’s pitching staff again.
The other pitcher to keep an eye on is Kolby Allard. The lefty returned this weekend for his first start since Spring Training. He was dealing with an oblique injury, but the early signs are promising, as he tossed four innings of shutout ball with three strikeouts. Allard doesn’t have crazy upside like Soroka, but he could prove to be a solid innings eater for the team until the rest of the staff gets back to 100%.
With the trade deadline fast approaching, it’s worth monitoring the health and progress of all of these guys. As things stand now, the Braves could probably use another starter, but if everyone can stay healthy, at least two of these options should provide the Braves with more than enough starting pitching depth, allowing them to focus on other areas at the trade deadline.
Photo: Photographer: Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire