I said it earlier in the year when the rotation was struggling, but I firmly believed the Braves’ starting pitchers would eventually shake off the cobwebs and be one of the best units in baseball. And that was before the emergence of Spencer Strider, who has become must-watch television every time he toes the rubber. The rookie struck out 12 last night against the Cardinals over six scoreless innings, and over his last 18 innings, he’s allowed just one run to go along with 30 strikeouts. The Braves rotation is loaded, and all it takes is one glimpse at the Nationals League leaders in FanGraphs WAR metric to figure that out.
NL leaders in pitching fWAR:
1. Sandy Alcantara – 3.4
2. MAX FRIED- 3.3
3. Carlos Rodon – 3.2
4. Aaron Nola – 3.0
5. Zack Wheeler – 2.9
6. Corbin Burnes – 2.6
7. SPENCER STRIDER- 2.4
8. Joe Musgrove – 2.3
9. Logan Webb – 2.2
10. KYLE WRIGHT – 2.1
— Matt Chrietzberg (@BravesMattC) July 8, 2022
Now, WAR isn’t a perfect stat, but it’s easily the most-used metric when discussing how valuable a player has been over the course of the season. Right now, the Braves have three of the most valuable starting pitchers in the NL, and they have another weapon blossoming in the form of Charlie Morton.
The 39-year-old Morton began the season about as poorly as anyone could have imagined. He carried an unsightly 5.67 ERA into his June 17th start against the Cubs. However, it’s been Charlie F’N Morton ever since. In his last four starts, he’s only allowed four runs over 26.2 innings (1.35 ERA) while striking out 35. His control has returned, and the bite on his curveball is as sharp as ever. Morton may not be on the list above, but by the end of the season, I expect him to be one of the top pitchers on the staff — right next to Fried and Strider.
But Kyle Wright may have something to say about that. As I predicted to begin the season, he’s broken out in his fifth year with the team and shown plenty enough for me to believe this is no fluke. He’s on track to win 18 games and record a sub-3.00 ERA. It’s crazy that he might be the fourth-best pitcher on the team.
And what’s even more mind-blowing is Ian Anderson has become an afterthought. He has admittedly had a very rough go at it in 2022, posting a 5.08 ERA, but I’m not sure there is a more talented number five in baseball. At just 24 years old, Anderson has started eight postseason games and owns a 1.26 ERA.
The Braves rotation is as stacked as it has ever been since the rebuild. Max Fried is a legitimate Cy Young candidate, and Spencer Strider might be even better than him. Kyle Wright has come into his own, while Charlie Morton has found his mojo. The fact that Mike Soroka and Ian Anderson could be battling for the final spot in the rotation down the stretch is a testament to just how deep this group is.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire