Atlanta Braves: Elder's 2nd Half Struggles Do Not Bode Well for MLB Playoffs

The Atlanta Braves won in comeback fashion against the Cubs last night but Bryce Elder struggled yet again. With Charlie Morton set to miss the NLDS, the Braves need Elder to get it together. What's wrong with the All-Star and can he correct it in time?

Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves
Chicago Cubs v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The Atlanta Braves are going to need Bryce Elder in the NLDS with Charlie Morton on the IL. Morton is set to miss the NLDS. After all the bragging about how there probably isn't a better third starter in the big leagues, we lose Morton for the first round.

RELATED: Will Charlie Morton Retire or Return in 2024?

Bryce Elder made his first All-Star team this year and was one of the ERA leaders for most of the season. The underlying metrics indicated that it may be a mirage. Bryce Elder's regression was one of my 5 Reasons the Braves Won't Win the World Series in 2024.

This downward spiral is not a small sample size. It's not like we are looking at his last couple of games. Going into his July 9th start at Tampa Bay, Elder had a 2.45 ERA. Since then he has made 14 starts. In those 14 starts, he has a 5.75 ERA.

Now, here's a small sample size for you. Over his past three starts, he has only pitched 12.1 innings. In 12.1 innings he has walked nine, allowed 19 hits, and 13 earned runs. He has one more walk than strikeouts during that time. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is negative!

Bryce Elder's Underlying Numbers

Elder has an expected ERA of 4.52 on the season, which he has been barreling toward in the second half. His fastball velocity ranks in the sixth percentile at 89.8 mph. He is not a strikeout pitcher by any means with a 6.6 K/9 and a 23.5 Whiff percentage (31st percentile). When a pitcher doesn't have strikeout stuff, they need to rely on inducing soft contact. Elder ranks in the 36th percentile in hard-hit percentage. Forty-one percent of all batted balls are batted hard off Elder.

Looking at the Bright Side of Bryce Elder

Bryce has had stretches of brilliance. Although he does give up a lot of hard-hit balls, he avoids barrels, ranking in the 81st percentile. He is in the 84th percentile in groundball rate with 50.6% of batted balls hitting the dirt/grass.

Elder gets one more tune-up start against the Nationals before he dives into the postseason. He is scheduled to start the final game of the season. Hopefully, he can cut down the walks and get plenty of gentle groundballs. The Braves proved they don't NEED a solid outing from Elder last night when they won despite his poor performance, but it sure would be helpful.

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