Predicting the Braves Opening Day Roster 2.0

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Before the start of Spring Training, I came up with my prediction for the 26 players that would make up the roster on Opening Day. This is something that I will be updating weekly throughout March, culminating with my Opening Day roster predictions 4.0, which will be my final estimation. As you might expect, not too much has changed since I last updated this; however, there are a few players that impressed me enough to sneak their way in, which in turn, knocks a few guys off. Let’s see the new names that made the cut this time around.

Starting Rotation

  1. Max Fried
  2. Charlie Morton
  3. Ian Anderson
  4. Drew Smyly
  5. Bryse Wilson

As I said in my Spring Training standouts piece, the Braves’ starting pitchers have been lights out early on (excluding Drew Smyly’s poor outing yesterday). For that reason, I couldn’t make any changes. I still believe Mike Soroka will begin the season on the Injured List, and though Kyle Wright was excellent in his second Spring Training start, tossing three scoreless innings, his rocky first outing prevents him from cracking the rotation as of now. However, it really is a toss-up between him and Wilson at this point.

Starting Lineup

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr. (RF)
  2. Ozzie Albies (2B)
  3. Freddie Freeman (1B)
  4. Marcell Ozuna (LF)
  5. Travis d’Arnaud (C)
  6. Dansby Swanson (SS)
  7. Austin Riley (3B)
  8. Cristian Pache (CF)
  9. Pitcher’s Spot

No changes here, and frankly, I don’t expect there to be. This will be the Braves’ starting lineup. Austin Riley is off to a scorching hot start to spring, so there’s no reason he shouldn’t be penciled in as the everyday third baseman. It’s also overwhelmingly clear that Pache is much better than Ender Inciarte and should begin the season starting for the Braves in centerfield.


  1. Will Smith
  2. Chris Martin
  3. A.J. Minter
  4. Jacob Webb
  5. Tyler Matzek
  6. Luke Jackson
  7. Nate Jones
  8. Josh Tomlin
  9. Victor Arano

Here is where one of the changes occurred. The top-six were all on this list prior to Spring Training, and I believe the top-five are all but guaranteed to be on the Opening Day roster as long as their healthy. Luke Jackson allowed a run in his first appearance of the spring, and he had a miserable 2020. However, given his upside and the fact that he is out of options, he will likely make the Opening Day roster as long as he doesn’t have a total meltdown in Spring Training.

New to the list is Nate Jones. The former closer for the White Sox has looked superb in his two outings this spring and could be the right-handed arm the Braves are looking for to handle high-leverage situations. Josh Tomlin has yet to pitch yet in the spring, but he’s on a major-league deal and has an extensive track record. Until something changes, he will be on my 26-man roster. Rounding out the bullpen is Victor Arano, just like last time. He was perfect in his first inning of action in 2021.


  1. William Contreras
  2. Ender Inciarte
  3. Johan Camargo
  4. Jake Lamb

Through a week-plus of Spring Training, the Braves bench is totally up in the air. Johan Camargo is the only player among these four that is a safe bet to make the Opening Day roster. I had Alex Jackson as the backup catcher before the season, but I’m beginning to think Atlanta might roll with William Contreras. It’s pretty obvious he is the superior offensive player despite not having played a game in AAA, and the Braves believe he could be the future behind the plate in Atlanta.

The other two — Ender Inciarte and Jake Lamb — are battling for their spots. I give Inciarte the edge because of his defensive ability, contract, and experience. He has been a fantastic mentor to Cristian Pache and is also owed nearly $9 million this season. However, the Braves could view it as a sunk cost and allow him to find a new home. A change of scenery may do Inciarte wonders. Jake Lamb only has one hit in eight tries this spring; he will have to show more to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. Jason Kipnis is another option that could take his place.

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