The Braves lost their third consecutive game last night behind arguably the worst start of Spencer Strider‘s career. After a couple of scoreless frames, he wasn’t able to get out of the third inning, allowing six earned runs. The Braves would mount a comeback and had multiple chances to tie the game, but they would fall short in the first of four at PNC Park.
After one of the most torrid stretches you’ll ever see from a club, which saw Atlanta build a 12.5-game lead in the NL East, the Braves have gone a little cold since the All-Star break. They are one game under .500 over the last month, and it’s to no fault of their offense. Starting pitching, which the Braves failed to address at the trade deadline, has been the culprit, boasting an unsightly ERA north of five.
It’s a cause for concern, but how worried should Braves fans be about this group moving forward?
Braves Starting Pitching Panic Meter — 3
I refuse to get my panties in a wad over a rough stretch in August. We are still two months away from the postseason, and the team has already essentially locked up the division. There is plenty of time to work out the kinks, and just like offensive players, pitchers go through slumps as well.
The best thing to happen over the last week is ten times more important than any of the poor performances from Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, and Bryce Elder. Max Fried returned, and he looked like the best pitcher on the face of the planet. Having him back and heading this group is essential to the Braves accomplishing their ultimate goal.
Strider’s performance last night was discouraging, but this is still one of the best pitchers in baseball. I’m not sure there’s a better one-two punch in the league than he and Fried when 100% healthy.
Morton’s last four starts have been the worst stretch of his season, but prior to that, he posted a 2.52 ERA over seven outings. He may not be the pitcher he was a few years ago, but he’s a veteran with loads of postseason experience and time to figure it out before October. As far as #3 options across the league, there aren’t many better.
If there’s one guy I am worried about it’s Bryce Elder. Regression has smacked him in the face as of late, recording a 7.71 ERA over his last five starts. But again, how many fourth starters in the league are boasting a 3.46 ERA for the season in August? Not to mention, there is still the potential for Kyle Wright to return in September.
This may not be the best rotation in franchise history, but I would say it is the best one the Braves have had in quite a while. The team won a World Series with Tucker Davidson and Dylan Lee starting games back in 2021. Guys are going to have to step up and perform when it matters most. It’s better that they are slumping now than in a couple of months, and let’s not forget, the Braves offense can cover up a lot of these warts with their ability to score runs in bunches.
Atlanta’s pitching staff doesn’t have to be anywhere close to perfect to win the damn thing; they just have to be a little bit better than they have over the last month. I think we can all agree that’s more than doable, especially with Max Fried back in the fold.
Photo: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire