Bryce Elder shows why he’s next in line for the Braves

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Just like most of last year, the Braves have a spot in their rotation that is an open competition because of injury. However, the hope is someone eventually makes the most of their opportunity and doesn’t look back, much like Bryce Elder did last season when Max Fried went down.

The 24-year-old came up in early April and went on to make the NL All-Star team, but a rough second half and the additions of Reynaldo Lopez and Chris Sale this offseason led to Elder being on the outside looking in once again at the end of Spring Training. With Spencer Strider now out for the season, most expected Elder to be next in line, but to this point, Allan Winans and Darius Vines have gotten the first cracks at the major league level.

Winans struggled mightily against the Mets, and it may be a while before we see him with the Braves again, if we ever do this season. Vines, however, showed some real chops against a fantastic Astros lineup, going 4.2 innings and allowing just one run with four strikeouts. He’s deserving of another shot next time through the rotation, but if he falters, Bryce Elder is leaving no question about who should be next.

Through three starts with the Gwinnett Stripers, Elder is 2-0 with a 3.31 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 16.1 innings, and his outing last night might be the perfect representation of who he is as a pitcher. He struggled mightily in the first frame, surrendering four hits and three runs before even recording an out. That’s the start of a disastrous outing for most young arms, but Elder settled in, got out of the inning, and went on to finish six frames without allowing another run to cross the plate.

The former Texas Longhorn standout is not going to blow anyone away with his stuff, but as I have said for years, the young man just understands the nuances of pitching. He has had success at every level, from college to the majors. Elder locates as well as anyone, is fearless when runners are on base, and doesn’t give up many free passes. That’s a recipe for success for any pitcher; it doesn’t matter how hard he can throw.

Darius Vines deserves another shot after his performance on Monday, but it won’t be too long before Bryce Elder is donning a tomahawk across his chest again.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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