Atlanta Braves options if Max Fried does not start Wednesday
The Atlanta Braves might have a decision to make for Wednesday's start. This is because Brian Snitker did not commit to Max Fried for that start.
A very vague statement. Is Fried dealing with an injury or could the Braves be considering giving him some extra rest?
I agreed to take this assigment and go over the potential possibilities if Fried does not make the start on Wednesday.
Dylan Dodd has had an up and down debut season with the Braves, but did put together a solid showing last Thursday against the Miami Marlins. He went 6 innings, allowing 8 hits, 3 walks, 3 earned runs, but only 1 strikeout. That is fine for someone making a spot start in a situation.
There is still room to improve for young Dylan Dodd, however, the performance last Thursday could earn him another start in Atlanta. The one thing to consider here is that Dodd was optioned after the game on Friday, meaning he has to wait 10 days to be recalled. Unless he was replacing someone going on the injured list.
If Fried is dealing with an injury serious enough to on the Injured List, it could make sense to give Dodd another shot. The Braves are already going to need a 5th starter next week due to the Kyle Wright injury, if Fried is out for a few weeks, simple math tells me they will need two starters to fill those spots.
The next option we will look at is Jared Shuster. The Braves top ranked prospect broke camp with the club due to Wright's shoulder issue preseason and due to Bryce Elder's struggles during the spring. It did not go well for Shuster in the majors.
Unlike Dodd, if the Braves wanted they could option someone back to AAA to make room for Shuster. The only real options to out of the bullpen is AJ Minter, Nick Anderson, and Dylan Lee. I do not see the Braves optioning any of them. I also do not see them trying to DFA anyone. So while the team does not have to place anyone on the IL for Shuster like they do Dodd, I think we see someone from the bullpen hit the list, assuming Fried has nothing serious going on.
Moving on to Shuster's performance this year, he got 2 starts early, only pitching 8.1 innings, with an 8.31 ERA, 7.84 xERA, 5.32 FIP, 8.08 xFIP, & 7.78 SIERA. Yikes.
He needed more time in AAA and the Braves sent him to Gwinnett. Over 4 starts, and 19 innings pitched, Shuster has a 2.37 ERA. However, that comes with a 5.11 FIP & 5.48 xFIP. He has struggled with walks both in the majors (20%) and the minors (15.9%) this year.
Shuster did pitch 6 scoreless innings Friday night though, allowing only 3 walks while striking out 5. Showing the tools that earned him the title of top prospect. Since he pitched Friday, that also means he would be in line to start on Wednesday if the Braves were to turn to him.
The Braves would still need to make a roster move, but that is something they were going to have to make by this weekend anyways to address the loss of Wright. If Fried just needs a few days off, it might make sense to give Shuster a shot here, and maybe we see one of the bullpen arms head to the injured list to make room on the 26 man.
This option would basically allow the Braves to run what was essentially a 7-man rotation over the last week. One that allowed them to save their key arms some bullets for later in the season.
Michael Soroka fits into the same category as Shuster. Somewhat.
As Soroka continues to attempt his comeback, he has a 5.23 ERA over 20.2 innings. His peripherals suggest some tough luck though, with a 3.43 FIP & 4.40 xFIP. Still nothing substantial, but does show there has been some tough luck.
I am anxiously awaiting for Soroka to make his long awaited return to the major leagues. It will be nice to see him put on the Atlanta Braves uniform once again and take the mound at Truist Park.
Unfortunately, it probably does not happen Saturday. He pitched yesterday, meaning he is not lined up for Wednesday. Now, maybe there is a possibility the Braves run with Dodd or Shuster on Wednesday, option them, and let Soroka make a weekend start in Toronto.
Probably unlikely and it depends on how much the Braves want to manipulate their rotation to get guys extra rest.
The final option that could be considered is a bullpen game. With the way the schedule is laid out, the Braves will have two off days surrounding the series with the Boston Red Sox. Meaning less stress for the bullpen next week.
Of course, this is also contingent on Charlie Morton's start on Tuesday. If uncle Charlie pitches 7 strong innings, it would leave the door open for a bullpen game. If Morton struggles, goes 5 innings, and Brian Snitker needs to make several calls to the bullpen, then it would obviously make a bullpen game less likely.
The Braves do currently have 9 bullpen arms. They will need to make a decision on one of those bullpen guys eventually, as they will need a 5th starter again in a matter of days. With that extra arm, now would be the time to consider a bullpen game if that is the direction they want to go.
Collin McHugh can give the team multiple innings, possibly three innings if all go well. He also has started in the past so he could open the game. Michael Tonkin has worked multiple innings this season, and guys like Dylan Lee & Jesse Chavez have worked multiple innings in the past as well. If all goes well, they could easily cover 6-7 innings to get the team to the backend of the bullpen.
Of course, guys like Kirby Yates and Joe Jimenez could also get some work in as well. Then, one of them would probably hit the IL for the 5th starter this weekend or early next week.
I think it is much more likely the Braves go with a starter over a bullpen game, but I would not be shocked if that is the direction the team decided to go.
What will the Braves do Wednesday?
While the Braves did not commit to Fried on Wednesday, it is important to note that they also never said they were moving Fried from that day. It does seem like a strong possibility though.
Unless we get news over the next day of an injury, it feels like the Braves are using the extra days to give Fried an extended break early in the season. They might be looking at this as a way to save that arm for the dog days of the summer.
Either way, the team is facing a decision over the next week anyways. As mentioned with the Wright injury, they will need someone to step up and claim the 5th spot in the rotation.
They will need either Dodd, Shuster, or maybe even Soroka to step in to that backend of the rotation and hold it down for at least a few weeks. With Wright's issue being his shoulder, it could be even longer.
We might get a hint at who the Braves are leaning towards on Wednesday.