Time to worry about the Braves rotation?

MLB: JUL 02 Marlins at Braves

Though I wasn’t of the belief that the Braves rotation would be an issue this season, several national media pundits weren’t as confident in the depth of the group. Now, it’s been put to the ultimate test with Spencer Strider going down for the season with a torn UCL.

Let’s be clear, any club that loses its ace in April is going to be in a pickle. Nobody can be prepared for that, but the Braves were better prepared than most, at least it seemed that way on paper.

Max Fried finally looked like himself again on Friday night, tossing 6.1 innings of one-run ball against the Marlins. However, he’s still boasting an unsightly 8.74 ERA on the season. The opponent also has to be taken into account. Miami features arguably the worst offense in baseball.

The early part of 2024 has been a roller coaster ride for Chris Sale, and nothing exemplifies that more than his most recent outing. He racked up seven strikeouts and was efficient in his work, making it through seven innings, but a couple of big innings led to five runs and a loss.

Charlie Morton has also gotten off to an inconsistent start to his age 40 season. He was lights out in his first outing against the White Sox, shutting out Chicago through 5.2 innings with six strikeouts. Morton then looked to be well on his way to another gem against the Mets before giving up a devastating three-run homer to Brandon Nimmo, leading to a loss. However, Sunday was by far his most discouraging performance. His velocity was down a tick, as he surrendered six earned runs to the lowly Marlins lineup.

I’m an optimist when it comes to the Braves, and it’s only April. There is a lot of time to work out the kinks, and moves can always be made later in the season if needed. For now, the offense is more than capable of handling the load, even if it means scoring nine runs to win some nights. Hitting the panic button right now would be a gross overreaction.

However, you’d be lying if you said there isn’t some concern about the Braves starting pitching. They have a 5.59 ERA on the season and just lost one of the best pitchers in the game for the year.

Max Fried, Chris Sale, and Charlie Morton will likely be much better moving forward, but what about Reynaldo Lopez? Can he stick in the rotation the entire season? Lopez hasn’t pitched more than 66 innings since 2019. I’m not so sure he’s ready to make 30+ starts. If another starting pitcher is lost to injury, things could start to look really dicey.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire


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