How will the Braves approach the rotation without Charlie Morton?

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Last year, the Braves ultimately crumbled because of their lack of starting pitching depth. This season, thanks to the addition of Charlie Morton, that hasn’t been an issue in the postseason. However, because of the injury Morton suffered in Game 1, it could become a problem again in the World Series.

We know the Braves will go with Max Fried in Game 2 and Ian Anderson in Game 3. That also sets them up to pitch in Games 6 and 7 on full rest, if necessary. However, what about Games 4 and 5?

Game 4 was already up in the air before Charlie Morton was injured in the third inning of Game 1. We’ve heard Brian Snitker mention Kyle Wright as a possibility, but I always thought it was most likely going to be a bullpen game, given how productive the bullpen has been since August. However, I don’t find it plausible for the Braves to go with back-to-back bullpen games in Games 4 and 5, especially after Atlanta’s relief core was already asked to pitch 6.2 innings in Game 1. In one of Games 4 or 5, a starter will have to give the Braves some length, so who is the most likely option?

As I mentioned, Kyle Wright could receive a shot, but I have a difficult time believing the Braves are actually considering starting him in a World Series game. The last time he pitched in the majors was on June 23rd, allowing five earned runs over just two innings against the Mets. And we all remember the last time he pitched in the postseason against the Dodgers in which he surrendered seven earned runs and only recorded two outs. I’m aware Wright put together his best minor-league season to date with the Stripers. I’m also aware the Braves are desperate for some length, but they aren’t that desperate… not yet, at least.

Tucker Davidson is also a possibility. The Braves announced he will be taking Charlie Morton’s spot on the roster, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision. The lefty was unhittable with the Stripers in four starts before making his major-league debut, boasting a 1.17 ERA, and his success carried over to the majors. In four starts with the Braves, Davidson recorded a respectable 3.60 ERA with 8.1 strikeouts per nine. Unfortunately, an injury forced him onto the 60-day IL and looked to have ended his season, but he’s back healthy just when the Braves needed him. One thing Brian Snitker knows he will get out of Davidson is strikes. With that being said, I still find it unlikely that he ends up starting a game in this World Series.

The most logical option is Drew Smyly. Smyly may not have lived up to his contract in the regular season, posting a 4.48 ERA, but he made his first postseason appearance against the Dodgers in Game 4 and was brilliant. I’m not in love with Smyly starting, but the matchup suggests he could have some success. The Astros love hitting fastballs, while Smyly prefers to fill the zone with junk. In desperate times, he’s undoubtedly the best option to receive a start in Game 4 or 5.

I’m not sure exactly how the Braves will approach it, but I do expect Smyly to start in one of those games. If he runs into trouble, expect the likes of Wright and Davidson to be ready at a moment’s notice. The other game will likely be a bullpen game, and I would bet Jesse Chavez will be used as the opener.

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