Will the Braves go with a six-man rotation?

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The Braves only have a couple of starting positions up for grabs entering the 2023 campaign, but that happens when a front office locks up the core of the roster for the better part of the next decade. Continuity is an understatement. The Braves will essentially experience little to no personnel turnover until 2030, but there are a couple of jobs up for grabs. Left field will shake out between Marcell Ozuna and Eddie Rosario, while the fifth and final spot in the rotation is an open competition.

Four spots in the Braves rotation are locked up going into 2023. Max Fried has established himself as the best lefty on the planet, finishing second in the NL Cy Young race in 2022. And Spencer Strider is arguably the better pitcher, breaking several MLB records as a rookie. Kyle Wright is coming off a 20-win campaign and top-ten finish in the NL Cy Young Race, and Charlie Morton is the veteran of the group looking to bounce back after an up-and-down 2022. Mike Soroka, Ian Anderson, and  Bryce Elder will battle it out for the final spot.

Soroka shouldn’t be expected to be anything close to the 2019 version of himself. He hasn’t pitched in a major league game since 2020, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Braves had him begin the year at Triple-A Gwinnett. Elder has been consistent at all levels. With the Braves, he posted a 3.17 ERA, and his last five starts were eye-popping, recording a 1.65 ERA and 2.41 FIP. However, my personal favorite to come out of this competition is Anderson, who boasts an otherworldly 1.26 postseason ERA over eight starts. Anderson even had a no-hitter going through five innings in the World Series against the Houston Astros. People can forget that after his down 2022 campaign.

Is it possible for the Braves to go with a six-man starting rotation in 2023?

FanGraphs actually projects what looks like a six-man rotation, with Soroka garnering 92 innings and Anderson drawing 71 innings. To reinforce those projections, Alex Anthopoulos spoke with Mad Dog Russo about a month ago, telling him the Braves could very easily go with a six-man rotation if Soroka and Anderson both look great.

This potential rotation should have Braves Country salivating:

  1. Max Fried
  2. Kyle Wright
  3. Spencer Strider
  4. Charlie Morton
  5. Ian Anderson
  6. Mike Soroka

The club will probably ride the hot hand. Kolby Allard and Bryce Elder will also get their respective starts, and I imagine the Braves will give each player ample opportunities to grab the fifth and final spot in the rotation. Anderson has to be seen as the favorite, but there are many benefits to letting these guys compete over the first half of the season.

Keeping Strider, Fried, Wright, and Morton healthy and fresh is a byproduct that cannot be forgotten. Those are the Braves horses and having them healthy in the postseason is the most critical aspect of this situation. Having a handful of starters vying for the fifth spot will give those established pitchers more time between starts.

All four candidates also have options remaining, so Brian Snitker and Anthopoulos can tinker with the rotation until someone separates themselves from the group. A club can never have enough pitching. There will be injuries. Having this kind of insurance could pay substantial dividends moving forward.

 

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