Seemingly everything the Braves touch right now turns to gold. It’s been that way for a while honestly, ever since Alex Anthopoulos took over as general manager, but it feels as if things are just starting to peak. The Braves are currently 0.5 games behind the Rays for the best record in baseball, winning 13 of their last 14 games and leaving many to question if they even have to add anything at the trade deadline.
The Braves lineup is synced up and in a groove right now. Together, they have combined for a .302 average, 55 homers, and a .900 OPS in June. It’s an offense that leaves no room for the pitcher to breathe, and even the best arms in baseball have struggled to slow it down. Every single piece has performed at an above average rate to this point in the season. Hell, even the Braves reserves have been above average. There’s absolutely no reason for Alex Anthopoulos to search for a bat heading into the trade deadline.
The Braves pitching, however, hasn’t experienced the same sort of consistency, which is to be expected when two guys that finished inside the top ten of the NL Cy Young race hit the 60-day IL. Despite that, this rotation has held its own, receiving unexpected contributions throughout the season.
Most of the praise deserves to be allocated to Spencer Strider, Bryce Elder, and Charlie Morton. Those three have carried this group all season, but we’ve seen 20-year-old AJ Smith-Shawver have success, and yesterday, we got our first taste of Kolby Allard, who tossed 4.2 innings of shutout ball against the Twins with eight strikeouts. He looks ready to contribute, but the Braves might not even need him.
On Friday, Michael Soroka is expected to make his long-awaited return to Truist Park. It will be his first time pitching at home with fans in the stands since 2019, and he looks to build off the success he’s recently had in AAA, where he’s allowed just three runs over his last 19 innings. If that’s the Michael Soroka the Braves can come to expect, this rotation has the potential to be the best in baseball.
Max Fried has already thrown several bullpens. He could be back as early as next month, and Kyle Wright isn’t too far behind. That’s a luxury few teams have, and I haven’t even talked about AJ Smith-Shawver much, who is also a candidate to start if needed.
When healthy, the Braves have as many as eight quality starting pitchers that could pitch at the major-league level, and pitch well. They only need five in the regular season, and by the time the postseason rolls around, that number shrinks to four. Adding another starter, even an innings eater, would be overkill at this point. Not to mention, starting pitching at the trade deadline can cost an arm and a leg in terms of prospects, something the Braves do not have in their farm system.
If anything, Atlanta’s rotation will be too crowded in a couple of months. I see absolutely no chance of the Braves targeting a starting pitcher at the trade deadline, unless more injuries arise in the near future.
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