Starting pitching depth was a strong point for the Braves coming into the season. I would argue no other club had as many major-league ready starting pitchers coming into the season, and it has quickly been put to the test.
It’s not even April and Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Kolby Allard, and Ian Anderson are all on the IL. Mike Soroka also got a late start to Spring Training because of a hamstring issue and is still ramping up his workload in Gwinnett. Most of those guys will be ready to contribute in a couple of weeks, but until then, the Braves need some unexpected pieces to step up. Dylan Dodd and Bryce Elder did just that in the final two games of Atlanta’s series in St. Louis.
In his MLB debut, Dodd showed incredible poise on Tuesday night against a very good Cardinals lineup. He gave up just one run and six hits over five innings, which was enough to earn his first major-league win. He probably could have even gone a little deeper too, but Brian Snitker did the right thing by pulling him after 73 pitches before he got the opportunity to face the heart of the Cardinals lineup for a third time. He had done his job, and the bullpen did theirs in the Braves 4-1 victory.
As good as Dodd performed, Bryce Elder was even more impressive on Wednesday afternoon. He put together arguably the best start of his young career outside of a complete game shutout against the Nationals in 2022. When you consider the competition, the six scoreless innings of shutout ball with six strikeouts may be his best work.
Elder only allowed two hits and was in control of all of his pitches the entire afternoon. The Braves chose to start him in Gwinnett, but he is major-league ready. It wouldn’t surprise me if he sticks with the club once Wright and Fried are ready to return.
Between Dodd, Elder, and Soroka’s performances this week, Atlanta’s rotation is in a fantastic spot. It won’t be long before they are at full strength again. Combined with arguably the best lineup in baseball, this is a Braves team that looks poised to potentially do stuff we’ve never seen before in franchise history.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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