I’ve said it plenty of times over the course of the season, but this year’s Braves team is substantially better than the one that won the World Series last season. The lineup is better, the bullpen is improved, and the rotation is light years ahead of what the Braves had a year ago. Atlanta will be a handful for everyone come October, and their improved starting pitching is why I believe they have the best chance to repeat since the Yankees did it the last time in 2000.
I’ll start by giving the Mets some credit. When it comes to rotations, it’s hard to put anyone ahead of them. Their two-headed monster at the top of Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom might be the best one-two punch we’ve ever seen. Chris Bassitt is a fantastic pitcher as well, and Taijuan Walker and Carlos Carrasco shouldn’t be slept on either. But when you look at the Braves’ top-four guys that they have set up for the postseason, nobody has been better over the last two months.
Atlanta #Braves top 4 SP:
Max Fried – Last 13 starts:
6-3 – 2.07 ERA
Spencer Strider – Last 12 starts:
6-2 – 2.15 ERA
Kyle Wright – Last 11 starts
9-1 – 2.46 ERA
Charlie Morton – Last 14 starts:
3-2 – 2.84 ERA
The totals for top 4 SP in these last 50 games:
24-8 – 2.39 ERA
— BillShanks (@BillShanks) September 4, 2022
Max Fried‘s been splendid all season. He won’t win the Cy Young, but his track record suggests he just might be the best left-handed pitcher in baseball.
The Kyle Wright breakout campaign has been a thing of beauty. He leads all major-league pitchers in wins with 17 to go along with a 2.85 ERA. Wright will also receive top-ten consideration for the Cy Young award.
Those two have been nothing short of spectacular, but neither of them is the most dominant pitcher in the Braves rotation. That title belongs to Spencer Strider, who might have actually given Sandy Alcantara a run for his money in the Cy Young race had he begun the season in the rotation. Strider owns a 2.67 ERA on the year, and his 1.83 FIP suggests he’s been the subject of some abysmal luck. He also boasts a 13.7 K/9 and 0.977 WHIP.
Strider doesn’t even qualify for the WAR leaderboards at FanGraphs because he’s only pitched 114.2 innings. Yet he’s already accumulated 4.2 WAR, which ranks eighth in all of baseball — ahead of guys like Max Scherzer, Shane Bieber, Corbin Burnes, and pretty much anyone else you can think of. Strider isn’t just the best pitcher in the Braves rotation right now, he’s one of the best arms in the game, and his strikeout stuff will surely play come October.
Charlie Morton rounds out the group, and I’m not sure there’s a better number four in baseball, particularly when talking about the postseason. Morton is oozing with playoff experience, winning two World Series in the last five seasons, and he’s looked a lot more like himself since the middle of June. In his last 15 starts, Morton owns a 3.04 ERA, striking out 121 batters in just 91.2 innings. Once again, that kind of swing-and-miss will play in a big way in the postseason.
When it comes to rotations, the Mets are elite. The Dodgers also can hold a candle to anyone when they are healthy, and the Astros have an embarrassment of riches on the other side. But I’ll take the way these four Braves are pitching right now over everyone, which is a scary thought for opponents, considering the Braves were starting rookies like Tucker Davidson in the World Series last season and still were able to get the job done.
Photo: John Adams/Icon Sportswire
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