Which Atlanta Braves pitcher will have the highest WAR in 2024?

The Atlanta Braves are in a fortunate spot and carry the potential to have baseball's best rotation.
San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves
San Diego Padres v Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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Baseball season is around the corner! We are close to the Atlanta Braves being back and on track for another World Series push. This means arguing over bullpen usage in June and coming up with ridiculous trade proposals to get the team over the finish line.

In the meantime, we are going to get everyone ready with a roundtable discussion from some of the House That Hank Built family. The members that participated are:

Chase Owens, Eric Cole, Fred Owens, Gaurav Vedak, Mitchell Barbee, Sage Broda, Shayne Nissen, Steven Teal, and Trent Dickeson.

Today we are getting it started by predicting who will lead the Braves pitching staff in WAR during the 2024 season!

Chase: This one may go unanimous amongst our team, but only two real options are here. As much as I love Max Fried, and I desperately want him to be a Brave after the 2024 season, I’m picking Spencer Strider to lead the team in WAR for the Braves pitching staff. Not only do I think he leads the team, but I think Strider will lead the NL and capture the Cy Young award when it’s all said and done.

Eric: The answer is Spencer Strider. Fried is great and if he stays on the field for the entire season, this could be pretty close. However, Strider’s strikeout stuff just gives him such an edge that I suspect he will run away with this assuming he stays healthy in 2024. The dark horse here is Chris Sale, though, as he absolutely has the talent to make this interesting. Assuming he is right that he is healthy and back in form, his season could be fun.

Mitchell: Spencer Strider had a weird season last year. His ERA wasn't very impressive, his FIP was really great, and his xERA was also great, just not as good as his FIP. I think this is the year Strider keeps the ball on the ground a little more while maintaining his strikeout numbers. Or it’s the year he turns into 1999 Pedro Martinez.

Sage: It is hard to say anyone but Spencer Strider will lead the team in WAR. The way he pitches translates to having a higher WAR and less risk compared to Max Fired. It will be interesting to see if he pitches slightly less aggressively toward strikeouts and gears up toward some lighter contact. Yet, that doesn’t seem to be Strider’s style. The chess match is if Strider can maintain strikeout numbers while figuring out how to limit hard contact that hindered his overall consistency.

Gaurav: Spencer Strider. Pure filth, amazing mustache, quads carved from stone, and now possibly a curveball? Goodness gracious. 

Steven: It’s Spencer Strider. That’s undeniable. Strider is going to reach 300 strikeouts in a season, it’s only a matter of time. When you consider he’s now incorporating a “curveball” into his pitch mix, he’s only going to rack up more punchouts and drive that WAR higher. Quadzilla is a beast. 

Fred: I agree Strider is the guy. Never underestimate the power of a walk-year. If he avoids blister and shoulder issues, Max Fried could blow past his 5.0 fWAR from 2022. We could see a 17 WAR season from the top four in the rotation.

Shayne: As much as I will always go to bat for Max Fried and I don’t think it’s that farfetched if someone believes he’ll finish with a higher WAR than Strider, I’m going to go with the safe pick and choose the strikeout machine that is Spencer Strider. His curveball that he’s displayed in spring training looks unhittable at times and when you combine that with what he already has, I honestly feel bad for anyone stepping in the box against him this season. It’s not a matter of if but when he wins the Cy Young.

Trent: I think it will be a close race between Strider and Fried. There is also the argument that a healthy Chris Sale makes a case but I do feel they will be cautious with his workload through the year. Strider is ridiculous and if he stays healthy, there is reason to believe he could hit 300 strikeouts. Add in what should be a positive regression with the ERA and it is easy to see why he is considered a CY Young favorite. Fried is not just one of the best southpaws in the game, he has been one of the more consistent pitchers when healthy. Coming off a year where he missed so much time and in a contract year, I could see Fried making a statement before hitting the open market. It might come down to if you use bWAR or fWAR. bWAR might give Fried the nod while I imagine fWAR will lean Strider due to the strikeouts. Since I prefer fWAR for pitchers, I will make this a unanimous selection for the mustached vegan.

Conclusion- Spencer Strider has an elite arm

It was a surprisingly unanimous start to our discussions! Strider ran away with the first topic and it's easy to see why. The strikeout numbers he could put up make it hard not to choose him as the favorite. He already appears to be in mid-season form after just 9 innings this Spring.

This is no disrespect to Max Fried though. He finished 2nd in the NL CY Young voting two years ago and in the last year of his contract, he has extra motivation to shove. Nearly all of us gave him his flowers but were all drawn to the strikeout potential of Strider. The great news is the Braves could easily have two guys competing for a CY Young at year's end.

You will also notice a few of us giving some love to Chris Sale. If he is healthy and gives the Braves a good amount of starts, the Braves top 3 starting pitchers may all eclipse a 4 WAR. Not to mention they all 3 have a shot at leading the team in strikeouts at any point. Add in Charlie Morton and the combination of whoever the 5th starter is, the Braves have a shot at the best rotation in baseball. Pitching is tough to predict though.

For now, we are looking at the positive. Atlanta has two elite pitchers at the top of the rotation, but for now, we are all going with Spencer Strider to lead the rotation in WAR.

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