Pair of Braves starters among betting favorites for NL Cy Young

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This might be the best Braves team in franchise history, which is crazy to think about, considering the club won 100+ games in 2022 and won the World Series the year prior.

It’s a complete roster. Without several key contributors in Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Harris II, the lineup is still one of the most potent in baseball. The Braves’ offense is in the top five of the National League in batting average, runs, and home runs thanks to three of the most feared batters at the top of its lineup, along with unexpected contributions from Sam Hilliard and Kevin Pillar.

The Braves bullpen has been nearly unhittable, despite being down its closer in Rasiel Iglesias and setup man Collin McHugh. And the rotation is as strong as ever. Charlie Morton and Kyle Wright look great, while Bryce Elder and potentially Mike Soroka solidify the backend. What makes it arguably the best starting rotation in baseball is the aces — Max Fried and Spencer Strider.

Fried continues his dominance after a second-place finish in last year’s Cy Young race. The California native isn’t just the best lefty on the planet; he’s also making a case as the best pitcher in baseball too. Fried dealt with a hamstring injury, so he’s missed a turn or two in the rotation but is off to an incredible start — 1.08 ERA, 1.89 FIP, and 0.960 WHIP. That’s a pace he’s not likely to maintain, but his Baseball Savant page indicates regression won’t be too severe for the Braves’ bulldog:

  • Avg. Exit Velo.: 98th perecntile
  • HardHit%: 98th percentile
  • xERA: 96th percentile
  • Barrel%: 89th percentile
  • BB%: 97th percentile
  • Chase Rate: 98th percentile

What’s even crazier, Spencer Strider is better. Despite Max Fried getting every Game 1 opportunity, Strider’s stuff is arguably the best in baseball, reminiscent of Jacob deGrom. Through 22.0 innings, the hard-throwing righty has posted a 2.45 ERA, 1.045 WHIP, and an NL-best 2.28 FIP with an MLB-leading 14.7 K/9. And his Baseball Savant page paints a very red picture:

  • xBA: 89th percentile
  • xSLG: 90th percentile
  • K%: 97th percentile
  • Whiff%: 95th percentile
  • Fastball Velo.: 94th percentile
  • Extension: 95th percentile

There’s likely not a better one-two punch in baseball than what the Braves boast right now, and the betting markets feel the same way. FanDuel sees Fried and Strider among the favorites to take home the NL Cy Young award, with the latter leading the pack.

After two top-10 finishes last season with Fried and Kyle Wright, it seems the Braves are primed to place two within the top five of the 2023 NL Cy Young race.
Photographer: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire
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