Atlanta Braves Starter Bryce Elder Belongs on the All-Star Team

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Bryce Elder's performance should earn him an All-Star Game selection.
Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Bryce Elder's performance should earn him an All-Star Game selection. / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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The Atlanta Braves are 22 games over 500, six games ahead of the Marlins, 10 ahead of the Phillies, and 15 up on the Mets, thanks in no small measure to the emergence of Bryce Elder.

The Atlanta Braves entered Spring Training believing – at least publicly – the only question about the starting rotation was who would win a three-way battle for the fifth.

When Kyle Wright went on the IL with a shoulder issue, they had to take two of the three candidates and selected Jared Shuster and Dylan Dodd, sending Bryce Elder back to Gwinnett.

Recalled for a spot start on April 5, Elder threw six two-hit, shutout innings against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. When Shuster gave up four runs in four innings for the second time in two starts, he went to Gwinnett instead of Elder.

Dependable and Durable

In the absence of Fried and Wight, no one has pitched more effectively or performed as well when the Atlanta Braves needed it most than Elder.

Since his promotion, he’s made 15 starts averaging six innings at a 2.40 ERA with a 1.111 WHIP, striking out 75 and walking 24 while posting a 5-1 record. The Braves are 11-4 when Elder pitches; three of those losses had little to do with Elder’s performance.

  • On April 21, he threw six, five-hit innings and left leading 4-1
  • On May 13, he threw five innings, allowing two runs on five hits, and left with the game tied at two.
  • On May 30, he left the game after 7 1/3 innings with one on and one out, and the game tied.
  • Elder gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Nationals on June 11 and left with a man on first and one out, and the Brave behind 4-2.

Elder’s started after a loss six times and pitched to a 1.22 ERAstriking out 31, walking five, allowing one home run, and pitching into the seventh inning three times in 37 IP. 

That’s great, but how does he stack up against the league? I’m glad you asked.

Elder vs. the League

Elder’s 2.40 ERA and 54 ERA- are second in the NL behind Marcus Stroman’s 2.27 and 53, and his 1.111 WHIP outs him in a three-way tie for eighth with Mitch Keller and Zach Wheeler.

Because Elder’s not a strikeout pitcher, he suffers in most advanced metrics. It’s most visible in the difference between his 3.1 rWAR that slots him second in the NL and his 1.5 fWAR that ties him for 17th with Mile Mikolas and Blake Snell.

That’s a Wrap

There’s a good argument that the Atlanta Braves wouldn’t have a six-game lead without Bryce Elder. For many voting managers and coaches, that’s enough to make him an All-Star.

There is a long line of pitchers with similar numbers and better-advanced metrics to fill a limited number of slots. But All-Star pitcher selection is more subjective than statistics based. I expect Elder’s performance to earn him a trip to Seattle, particularly after he shut down the Phillies in front of All-Star team manager Rob Thompson last week.