Early this morning, the Atlanta Braves placed their ace lefty Max Fried on the IL with a forearm strain. Two of the teams starters are now on the IL, challenging the team's pitching depth to step up.
The Atlanta Braves pushed Fried’s last start back a day, a move believed at that time to put their ace on the mound against the surging Orioles. But Fried’s performance was nothing like the ones we’ve come to expect from one of the league’s best left-handed pitchers.
Concerns started to appear when the team gave vague answers about Fried’s next start. When the Braves acquired Fried from the Padres, he was rehabbing from his August 2014 UCL replacement surgery.
Forearm strains always raise concerns about UCL damage but according to Mark Bowman. Fried’s MRI indicated that wasn’t an issue, and a second surgery isn’t required.
Atlanta Braves Rotation Options
Bowman’s report indicated Fried won’t be back for a long time, and combined with Kyle Wright’s shoulder issues, means Dylan Dodd and Jared Shuster will likely get their chance to make regular starts.
Dodd pitched well in his last outing against the Marlins but was optioned to Gwinnett the next day. The Braves could have recalled him when Fried went on the IL but chose reliever Danny Young instead. As a result, Dodd won’t be eligible for recall until next week unless another pitcher is injured.
Shuster started for the Stripers on May 5 and threw six innings of no-hit ball against the White Sox AAA team, so he’ll be on regular rest to take Fried’s place.
The option is Michael Soroka. Soroka pitched the day after Shuster but didn’t fare as well, giving up three runs on seven hits in four innings, striking out five and walking one.
That’s A Wrap
The Atlanta Braves started the season with a strong rotation that’s suddenly looking thin. Strider is dominant but has to throw fewer pitches early to make it through five innings. Morton seems to have found a groove in his last two outings, and Elder’s pitched well, but the schedule looks daunting.
The next three weeks will test the Braves’ depth to the limit. After a two-game set against a Red Sox lineup that scored 64-run in an eight-game winning streak that ended Sunday, then head to Toronto to face one of a Jays lineup that averaged six runs their last seven games and end their road trip against a Rangers did the same. Then the Braves return home to face Seattle, the Dodgers, and the Phillies.
Hold on to your hats, the road ahead looks bumpy.