Atlanta Braves: Evaluating Internal Starting Pitching Options
We look at how the Atlanta Braves can take care of their starting pitching depth internally to use that money to fill other holes this offseason.
While I certainly would love the Atlanta Braves to go out and get another solid starting pitching like one of these to fill out the rotation, there is a case to be made that they already have some guys internally who can fill that void.
The three given in the starting rotation going into 2022 are Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Ian Anderson.
When healthy, Mike Soroka will figure into the equation, but at this point, you can’t count on that happening anytime soon — if at all.
That leaves the Braves with two spots to fill this offseason. And more than likely, they’ll need at least eight or nine starters to get through the 2022 season.
They had 11 different players start a game in 2021 — Jesse Chavez being one of those as an opener.
Here is how I would rank the internal candidates for the Braves to fill those starts.
First — Kyle Wright
Even though he just turned 26 years old, it kind of feels like it’s now or never for Kyle Wright. At the very least, it’s time for him to start proving he can be an effective big league starter — if maybe not the top of the rotation arm we all hoped he could be.
And the Braves just need him to be a fourth or fifth starter — just be better and more consistent than Drew Smyly was.
The righty has a 6.56 ERA in 70 big league innings with a 1.69 WHIP — brutal.
But he really seemed to turn a corner in the second half of the season in Gwinnett with a 2.43 ERA in August and 2.81 ERA in September.
And then he pitched 5.2 innings in the World Series allowing just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 3 walks with 6 strikeouts, including a brilliant 4.2 innings in Game 4.
The stuff has always been there, he just has to trust it and be in the zone with it. We saw that in the postseason, now if he can just do that more consistently at the big league level we may finally get to see the Kyle Wright we’ve wanted for years.
Second — Tucker Davidson
I’ve always liked Tucker Davidson as a solid middle-of-the-rotation type starter. He seemed to be fulfilling that role in 2021 with three straight quality starts before getting injured.
There’s no question the postseason start was terrible, but that was also an impossible ask for the youngster.
I believe the lefty is ready and will be a solid fourth or fifth starter in the rotation for years to come starting in 2022.
Third — Kyle Muller
We also saw flashes with Kyle Muller in 2021 as he had 5 starts in which he gave up 1 earned run or less. But he struggled in early August and was sent back down to work on some things — mainly his command that has always been his biggest issue.
Maybe not to start 2022, but I feel like Muller will make several starts for the Braves next season and be solid.
Fourth — Huascar Ynoa/Touki Toussaint
I prefer Huascar Ynoa out of the bullpen with his fastball-slider combo, but after a solid showing as a starter to begin 2021 I feel like he’ll at least be given another shot in the rotation.
The same can be said for Touki Toussaint — although with a different pitch mix. Touki seems destined for a trade or a move to the bullpen, but I can’t help but think he’ll get another shot in the rotation at some point in 2022.
Fifth — Bryce Elder
The 22-year-old (will turn 23 in May) out of Texas shot up through the system in 2021 and has set himself up to make his big league debut in 2022.
I wouldn’t count on him for a ton of starts, but I could see him start six-to-eight games if needed.
Those are the five or six guys I feel could make a significant number of starts for the Braves in 2022 and the rotation be just fine.
Some other names who could potentially make starts but are further on down the list for me are Jasseel De La Cruz, Spencer Strider, and Sean Newcomb.
While I’d still love a veteran at the backend to help ease those youngsters along and eat up some innings, I’m more than comfortable going into the season with a rotation of Fried, Morton, Anderson, Wright, and Davidson.