The Braves’ worst fears were realized yesterday after Charlie Morton‘s MRI revealed a sprained right index finger. He was placed on the 15-day IL, and Brian Snitker has confirmed he will not be available for the NLDS.
"He's gonna miss the division series and hopefully we can advance and have him ready for the LCS."@Braves manager Brian Snitker provides an update on Charlie Morton and the organization's postseason pitching plans ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/xRtOoQSgho
— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) September 24, 2023
Losing Morton is a massive blow to the Braves World Series hopes. Despite what many fans believe, he’s the best third option of just about any team in the postseason, a clear advantage over whoever the Braves might face in the Divisional Series. In his place, Bryce Elder will likely assume the role as the team’s third starter.
Elder might not have the postseason experience of Morton, but he’s been a very reliable option all season, boasting a 3.63 ERA over 30 starts. Although, his second hasn’t been nearly as pretty. Since the All-Star break, Elder owns a 4.71 ERA in 12 starts. Still, the Braves are 7-5 in those games.
Hopefully, Charlie Morton can heal up and be ready for a potential NLCS matchup if the Braves do advance because that is where his presence will be much more important. As I’ve talked about endlessly since the schedule for the NLDS was announced, it’s very favorable for a team like the Braves. Max Fried and Spencer Strider will both be able to pitch two games on full rest in a potential five-game series. In the NLCS, the Braves will need all hands on deck.
If Charlie Morton isn’t able to return for the NLCS, that puts the Braves in an interesting predicament. Without him, they really only have three starters. Maybe Kyle Wright shows enough to start Game 4, but it would probably have to be a combination of bullpen arms.
This is undoubtedly an extremely unfortunate situation that feels all too similar to last season when Max Fried and Spencer Strider dealt with their own issues ahead of the NLDS. However, the fate of this Braves team will not be determined by one player. This group is built to withstand a blow like this, as they’ve shown all season. Other guys are just going to have to step up.
Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire