The Atlanta Braves need to figure out how to fix the rotation after the crushing loss of ace Mike Soroka. Let’s explore some internal options for the team.
One could also argue that Wright doesn’t belong with Fried and Newcomb in the “original starters” category. Mike Foltynewicz was due to be the number-three man, but poor performances got him DFA’d off the active roster.
Cole Hamels was also supposed to claim a top rotation spot for the Braves this season. He has been unable to do so because of an injury to his shoulder. The injury landed him on the 45-day IL and will sideline him until early September. And of course, we all know about Mike Soroka and his torn Achilles that will keep him out for the better part of a year.
Fried, Newcomb, and Wright are the only presumed long-term starters left for this season. Touki Toussiant is in line for at least a few more starts, and now possibly more, if he can continue to put forth respectable outings. That still leaves a minimum of one more spot, and possibly as many as two or three, up for grabs. The Braves could fill that spot(s) internally or through a trade.
Internal Options for the Atlanta Braves
One of the more obvious options to step in and make starts for the Braves is Bryse Wilson. The 22-year old pitcher has pitched a total of 27 innings in the majors with mixed results.
In 2018, Wilson started one game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, going five innings without allowing a run. He then appeared in two more games in relief, but with much less successful results. Over the two relief appearances, Wilson gave up five earned runs over two innings.
Despite the poor finish to 2018, Atlanta gave Wilson another shot in 2019 to show he belonged. He largely disappointed last season, finishing with a 7.20 ERA. Wilson had just one good start, giving up two earned runs over six innings pitched. He also had just one good relief appearance, going one inning with zero runs allowed.
While he has not shown the best stuff at the major league level, Wilson does have the experience that most other young pitchers on the roster do not. That experience could lead the front office and coaches to believe that he is the best option in this shortened season. If Wilson gets the call, it’s OK to hope for the best, but temper any expectations you may have for him.
The Braves could decide to go the more exciting route by elevating one of their more highly touted prospects. For example, Ian Anderson.
The 22-year old right-handed pitcher spent all of 2019 in the two highest levels of the minor league system. Anderson made 21 starts for the AA Mississippi Braves. He went 7-5 but had a sterling 2.68 ERA and a respectable WHIP of 1.16. Anderson pitched 111 innings and struck out 147 batters while walking just 47.
After his impressive outings for the AA squad, Anderson was promoted to the AAA team in Gwinnett. Unfortunately, with the Stripers, the young pitcher was not as impressive. He was able to make five starts with the Stripers, reaching a total of 24.2 inning pitched.
Over those 24+ innings, Anderson still managed to strike out 25 batters, but walked almost a batter per inning at 18 total. He gave up 18 earned runs, struggling to an ERA of 6.57. Despite the horrid AAA stats however, he was still able to impress in his limited outings in Spring Training 2020.
In this season’s Spring Training, Anderson pitched a total of 5.2 innings. He shone, striking out six batters and only walking two. His ERA was an impressive 1.59, giving up just one earned run total.
Against major league talent, Anderson looked like he belonged and impressed a lot of people in his few outings. If the Braves want the possibility of adding a long-term arm to the rotation, then they could choose to give Anderson his shot at glory.
Ian Anderson isn’t the only promising young pitcher the Atlanta Braves could choose to give a chance. Tucker Davidson is a 24-year old left-handed pitcher that has actually shown to be a little more effective than his touted partner in crime, Anderson.
Davidson spent a comparable amount of time in both Mississippi and Gwinnett to the time Anderson spent there. Over 21 starts and 110.2 innings pitched, Davidson finished with an incredible 2.03 ERA and a solid WHIP of 1.20. He struck out 122 batters while walking 45 en route to allowing a total of just 25 earned runs.
With the Stripers, Davidson spent four games and 19 innings on the mound for Gwinnett. He struck out 12 batters over those 19 innings and walked nine others. Finishing the year in AAA with six earned runs led to him having a 2.84 ERA and being given some pitching time in the 2020 Spring Training games.
In this year’s Spring Training, Davidson pitched 6.1 innings and gave up just five hits. Throwing 51 pitches over those six-plus innings, Davidson punched out five of his opponents but walked four. He was able to limit the damage done to him by only allowing one earned run (good for a 1.42 ERA), but will need to clean up his control to win at the highest level of baseball.
Atlanta could definitely look to improve their starters by trading for help before the trade deadline expires. As of right now, there’s no way to know which teams will consider themselves sellers and which pitchers will be available so this focuses on options available to the team from within.
Some other, less likely, options that the Braves could promote from within to the starting rotation include a mix of older and younger players. If they wanted to give some more experienced players a shot, then Josh Tomlin makes the most sense. Younger options would include giving Huascar Ynoa, Jasseel De La Cruz, and Patrick Weigel.
If I were a betting man, I’d be prepared for the Atlanta Braves to go with the more experienced player. It’s likely that they choose to call up Bryse Wilson and give him another shot at establishing himself in the rotation.
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