Unless something unforeseen happens during the series, the Braves pitching options for Games 1,2,4,5 make Brian Snitker‘s job very easy. Spencer Strider is scheduled to get the ball in Game 1, and Max Fried will start Game 2 after throwing five innings in Tuesday’s open workout. The blister feels good, and all systems appear to be go. Strider will then be able to pitch Game 4 on full rest, and Fried can do the same for a potential Game 5.
The only critical decision Brian Snitker must make in the NLDS as far as starting pitching goes is deciding who gets the ball in Game 3. AJ Smith-Shawver finished the season strong and was brilliant in Tuesday’s open workout, tossing five scoreless innings. But will the Braves really trust a 20-year-old rookie with only six major-league appearances in a hostile environment in Philadelphia?
Kyle Wright is also an option. He’s appeared out of the bullpen as of late, so he would likely be more of an opener, but he has the postseason pedigree you want on the mound in a critical Game 3.
Then, there is Bryce Elder. The 24-year-old had a first half he will never forget, earning All-Star honors, but his second half has been rather brutal. He boasts a 5.75 ERA over his last 14 starts, and like Smith-Shawver, has no postseason experience.
I’m not even sure if Elder’s NLDS roster spot is guaranteed with how he struggled to end the season, but he was on the mound today at the Braves open workouts and performed decently. He allowed four hits over 4.2 innings, and the only two runs he surrendered came on a Michael Harris II home run.
Michael Harris' opposite-field homer in the first accounted for the only two runs Elder allowed over 4.2 innings. He allowed four hits and recorded a strike with 46 of 75 pitches. He'd have an extra day of rest entering his potential Game 3 start.
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) October 5, 2023
I’m not sure where the Braves will turn for their Game 3 starter. The only thing I’m sure of is it hasn’t been determined yet. A lot will depend on what happens in the first two games at Truist Park.
If Bryce Elder can avoid walks, he’s proven to be effective. He also owns a more than respectable 3.38 ERA against the Phillies this season. However, the first start came in the first half. In Elder’s last start against the Phillies on September 20th, he gave up four earned runs on three hits and five walks over 3.2 innings.
There’s no sexy option, but this is where Brian Snitker has made his money as the manager of the Braves.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire