Braves News: Schwellenbach's debut, Fried's continued dominance, and more

The Braves had an eventful start to the week so let's review some of that news.

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves
Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

It has been a news-heavy week for the Atlanta Braves. They returned their starting catcher and third baseman to the lineup and lost the reigning NL MVP in the same week. Injuries have plagued this team all season and it's affected their ability to find consistency.

However, there is some good news to be found and that starts with the Braves promoting one of their top prospects to the MLB level.

Braves call up Spencer Schwellenbach to make MLB debut

Spencer Schwellenbach has been regarded as one of Atlanta's best prospects since being drafted in the second round of the 2021 draft. He underwent Tommy John surgery after the draft and missed the entire 2022 season.

He looked pretty good in 2023, spending time with Low-A Augusta and High-A Rome. Through 51.1 innings with Augusta, he had a 2.98 ERA with 41 strikeouts. He was promoted to Rome towards the end of the season and made three starts there. Spencer achieved a 1.98 ERA over 13.2 innings with 14 strikeouts.

That leads us to 2024 as the Braves have decided to promote Schwellenbach, who will make his MLB debut against the Nationals on Wednesday evening. Atlanta optioned reliever Jimmy Herget to make room for Schwellenbach on the roster.

Herget had only been with the team for a few days and appeared in a couple of games. He tossed three innings of scoreless baseball allowing two hits, one walk, four strikeouts, and a 1.46 FIP. His funky delivery helps him be a tough at-bat for opponents and this probably won't be the last time fans see him with the MLB squad.

Schwellenbach spent the beginning of the season with the Rome Emperors and Mississippi Braves. Jumping from Double-A to the big leagues is usually only reserved for some of the most talented players.

He is being fast-tracked thanks to an impressive 1.80 ERA through 45 innings pitched across both the High-A and Double-A levels. Schwellenbach has 10 walks and 51 strikeouts and opponents are only batting .191 against him.

His debut went pretty well despite the Braves losing game three of the series by a 7-2 final. Schwellenbach looked incredible through the first four innings but the fifth inning tested his confidence.

Spencer mixed his pitches well throughout his outing and looked very composed on the mound. As mentioned, the fifth inning was the difference during his debut. A scary moment seemed to rattle Schwellenbach when a fastball hit Nationals outfielder Jacob Young in the helmet. Spencer was visibly shaken after the pitch and for good reason.

This may have caused him to lose his composure after he appeared locked in for the first few innings. Young reaching base added a second baserunner for the Nationals and Lane Thomas drove those in with a three-run homer to left field.

Schwellenbach settled in after this and got the final outs of the inning to end what was overall a great debut. His first taste of the big leagues with 5 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, and 5 K.

He's certainly earned the right to a second look from the Braves after that performance. We will have to wait and see if they give him the opportunity.

Atlanta's glaring offensive struggles continue

Schwellenbach could have benefitted from a bit more offensive support but the Atlanta offense continued to struggle on Wednesday. The Braves struck out 13 times last night and didn't earn a single walk as Nats starter Mackenzie Gore carved them up for 10 of those over 5.1 innings.

Atlanta's bats batted .223 over the last 29 games with just 3.3 runs averaged and 9.2 strikeouts per game. This has led to the team suffering 16 losses over that span and left fans scratching their heads as to what is going on.

It's not the high-powered offense everyone expected to carry over from the 2023 season, unfortunately. They will need to figure things out if they hope to have a chance at winning the division this season.

Ray Kerr to start Thursday's series finale with Nats

The Braves announced after Wednesday's game that lefty Ray Kerr will start the series finale against the Nationals instead of Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez was originally slated to start the game on regular rest but the team has decided to give him an extra day.

Kerr made his first career start last week against the Pirates and he completed four innings for the Braves including five runs on seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts. It wasn't the best outing but he showed potential and earned himself the opportunity to start another game.

Max Fried's continued domination bodes well for Braves

Braves southpaw Max Fried had one of the worst starts to a season you could imagine but he has turned things around in a big way since then. Fried's performance in May is incredible and he's pitched the way fans expected him to.

His most recent outing came Tuesday evening against the Nationals and he completed eight scoreless innings including seven hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. Fried reached a career milestone during Tuesday's start when he collected the 750th strikeout of his career.

Max has gone seven innings or more in all but one start this month. The shortest outing was 4.1 innings where he allowed the Padres to collect three runs on nine hits with three walks and two strikeouts.

Outside of that one start, Fried has been impressive and even pitched his second complete game of the 2024 season in Chicago. For the month, he has a 2.04 ERA through 35.1 innings with eight runs allowed on 23 hits with 10 walks and 29 strikeouts. Opponents batted .189 against him during that span.

If there's one thing fans would like to see improved, it would be the walks. Command has been a bit of an issue for Max at times but, as shown by the complete game, when his command is there, he's virtually unhittable. Cutting down on walks would allow him to have more opportunities at those types of performances.

This week has been tough for Braves fans as losing your star player is never easy but performances like we've seen from Fried and Chris Sale help soften the blow a bit. Hopefully, the offense can continue to figure things out and provide fans with more to cheer for.

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