Live from Braves Spring Training: Atlanta’s starting pitching depth now a strength

MLB: JAN 27 Braves Braves Fest

The Braves have dealt with pitching injuries every season in recent memory. At this point, it’s a foregone conclusion the rotation will experience some sort of injury, especially with the implementation of the new pitch clock.

In this past postseason, Kyle Wright was unavailable, Max Fried was dealing with a blister, and Charlie Morton had a finger issue. The year prior, which was also against the Phillies in the NLDS, Spencer Strider nursed an oblique injury while Max Fried dealt with a sickness.

It’s been a common theme, but Alex Anthopous addressed those concerns this offseason. The Braves GM acquired Chris Sale in a trade with the Red Sox, sending Vaughn Grissom to Boston.

Even though he’s 35 years old, Sale’s stuff is still electric. He currently owns the record for the highest K/9 in MLB history at 11.1, and in 102.2 innings last year, Sale posted an 11.0 K/9 with a strikeout rate of 29.4%, just below his career average of 30.5%. Moreover, for the first time in years, the veteran is healthy.

“This is the first time I’ve gone into an offseason without dealing with something since 2018,” Sale said at Braves Spring Training. “It’s been a long time. This was fun. I had a lot of fun this offseason, being able to play baseball and do things that I haven’t been able to do. I was throwing bullpens here early in the offseason and I was supposed to throw 20 and you end up throwing 33-34, and it’s like, I haven’t been able to do this.”

To go along with the 2018 World Series champion, the Braves have two aces to pair in Spencer Strider and Max Fried, along with another grizzled veteran in Charlie Morton. Those pitchers will hold the top four spots in the rotation, while the fifth spot is up for grabs.

Bryce Elder, Reynaldo Lopez, A.J. Smith-Shawver, and Hurtson Waldrep are expected to compete for that final spot in the rotation, but the depth goes beyond just those arms. Ian Anderson, Huascar Ynoa, Allen Winnans and others will be waiting in the wings when injuries inevitably arrive.

In the latest episode of SportsTalkATL, I am live from Braves Spring Training in North Port with Fox 5’s Miles Garrett talking about Spencer Strider’s new pitch, the Waldrep hype, and the incredible depth of the club’s rotation.



Photographer: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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