The Atlanta Braves announced on Sunday that starting pitcher Charlie Morton has hit the 15-day injured list. In addition to missing the rest of the regular season, he has also been ruled out for the NLDS. What does this mean for the Braves?
1. Loss of Postseason Experience
A starting rotation that consists of Fried, Strider, and Elder is more than capable of leading the Atlanta Braves to another World Series title. However, without Charlie Morton in the mix, it adds a little more pressure.
All of these arms have obviously been great during the regular season but the postseason is a completely different atmosphere. Morton has pitched in a total of 14 postseason series including a wild card game, 3 ALDS, 3 NLDS, 3 ALCS, 1 NLCS, and 3 World Series.
Fried, Elder, and Strider combined have appeared in 10 MLB playoff series. Max Fried accounts for 9 of those. Elder has never pitched in the postseason and Strider's only appearance resulted in allowing 5 earned runs in just 2.1 innings. Morton will be a big missing piece to this rotation in the NLDS.
2. Offense Must Maintain Pace
Throughout the 2023 season, the Braves have continued to shatter offensive records. There are many people arguing that this is the greatest offense in MLB history. The flip side to that claim is the fact they have not proved they can do it when it matters most yet.
Now with the rotation down a reliable starter, the Braves could be going in with the mindset that they will just outscore their opponents. Historically speaking, this usually does not pan out as runs are at a premium in October. Hopefully, the 2023 Atlanta Braves will be able to change that stigma.
3. Bullpen Buckle Down
It is no secret that if there has been any weakness in the Braves this season, it has been the bullpen. At the trade deadline, the addition of Brad Hand and Pierce Johnson was hoped to address these issues.
While Hand and Johnson have both had spans of success, they have not added to the Braves bullpen what Alex Anthopoulos had in mind. With Atlanta down to three reliable starters, relievers in the NLDS may have to carry a heavy workload. They will either have to buckle down and improve or the best team in the MLB could be facing an early exit.
Atlanta is playing a doubleheader with the Nationals on Sunday and apparently making Kyle Wright available out of the bullpen. This could be the Braves beginning to see what contingencies they may need to factor in covering multiple innings in the playoffs.
The loss of Charlie Morton for the NLDS cannot be overstated as he was a major part of the Braves winning the World Series in 2021. His leadership in the clubhouse will absolutely be missed.
Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for October 7th. It will most likely be Max Fried on the mound for the Braves and he will look to go as deep into the game as possible to save Atlanta's arms.