Braves: When Soroka comes back, who is the odd man out in the rotation?

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According to all reports, Soroka is nearing a return, and we could see him on the mound somewhere before the All-Star break. Now, there is obviously no guarantee the man who returns to the bump after back-to-back torn Achilles injuries is the same man who finished sixth in the NL Cy Young race in 2019, but there’s also something about Soroka’s work ethic that makes it seem possible. And if that happens, room will eventually have to be made for him in the starting rotation.

Max Fried and Kyle Wright

No reason to focus much on these two studs. They’ve been spectacular all season and won’t be going anywhere. I guess there is the off-chance Kyle Wright could fall out of favor, but I’ve seen enough from him this season to believe he has turned the corner.

Charlie Morton

On the surface level, Charlie Morton’s stats are an eye sore — 5.08 ERA, 4.24 FIP. But the eye test shows no signs of regression. Morton still is humming his fastball in the high 90s with movement, and his curveball hasn’t lost an inch of bite. His last three starts have been a perfect example of that as well; he’s racked up 29 strikeouts over just 18 innings. I firmly believe Morton’s last outing against the Cubs in which he tossed seven shutout innings of three-hit ball is what can be expected as we continue to go deeper into the season. With that being said, if he doesn’t figure it out over the next couple of months, it’s possible the Braves look to find a new role for him.

Ian Anderson

Like Morton, Anderson delivered his best start of the season against the Cubs, shutting out Chicago over 6.2 innings. It was his longest outing of the year and the first time he has not allowed a run in a start. I still think Anderson is full of potential in the long term, but I’m much less bullish on him than I am on Morton this season. The first two times through the order, Anderson is as good as anyone, but he gets crushed the third time through, and it’s a real issue that I don’t think is going away.

Spencer Strider

There is no doubt in my mind that Spencer Strider is a budding superstar, and while he was elite in relief, he’s even more valuable as a starter. In his last three outings, Strider has a 1.76 ERA with 24 strikeouts in just 15.1 innings. Hitters look hopeless against his stuff, and as he continues to get stretched out and gain confidence, I only expect the results to get better.

Strider will be a starter in this league for a long time; however, there are a couple of reasons why I believe the Braves could move him back to the bullpen later in the season. First, he’s a weapon in relief, and those multi-inning guys are critical come the postseason. But most importantly, Strider has never pitched more than 94 innings in a season. The Braves know they have something special in him, and they are going to want to preserve his arm, which is why I could see them moving him back to the bullpen.

Soroka/Anderson Piggyback

My personal favorite solution, however, would be piggybacking Soroka and Anderson. Anderson has proven he is an elite pitcher through about 4-5 innings, and there’s no reason to rush or expect Soroka to pitch 5-7 innings when he returns. It’s kind of a wonky idea, but I think it’s worth trying out. It’s so weird that it just might work.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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