HomeTrending MLB NewsWhy Braves should be able to take injury update in stride

Why Braves should be able to take injury update in stride

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Losing an ace such as Spencer Strider this early in the season would be a devastating blow for most teams. But most teams aren’t the Atlanta Braves.

The team announced on Saturday morning that Strider’s 2024 season is over after only two starts. The NL’s win and strikeout leader last season underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Friday and won’t pitch again until 2025.

It’s still possible, though, that he returns to a team defending a World Series title.

Braves starters Reynaldo Lopez, Charlie Morton and Chris Sale have started strong, and Atlanta also has options in its farm system to call up to the majors. Lopez leads the team with a microscopic 0.75 earned run average, Morton’s limited hitters to a .205 batting average and Sale leads the team in strikeouts (13).

Minor league right-handers AJ Smith-Shawver and Hurston Waldrep are Atlanta’s top prospects. Both ranked inside the top 50 among Baseball America’s top prospects entering the 2024 season. However, neither might be the first to move up to the pros.

Smith-Shawver plays for the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers and has shown glimpses of MLB potential with six strikeouts in three innings pitched. But he’s also been tagged for six runs, so he might need some fine-tuning with the Stripers before receiving a call-up.

Waldrep began the season with the Double-A Mississippi Braves and has a longer road to the majors.

A pair of Smith-Shawver’s teammates, Dylan Dodd and Bryce Elder, could get the first look. 

Elder started 31 games for the Braves last season and posted a 3.81 ERA en route to an All-Star game nod. In two starts for Gwinnett this year, he has a 2.67 ERA and 11 strikeouts to only three walks.

Dodd received an extended look in the majors last season as well but fared worse. He posted a 7.60 ERA in seven starts and only recorded 15 strikeouts. 

He’s been much more effective in 2024 with the Stripers, posting a 3.86 ERA and striking out 17 batters in 16.1 innings pitched.

The Braves have the starting pitcher depth to weather Strider’s injury and an offense that’s performing better than any to start 2024. Atlanta averages a league-high 6.8 runs per game and leads the majors with in-team batting average (.308).

Strider would certainly make the team’s job of getting to the postseason easier, but the Braves won’t fall apart because he’s out for the season. Instead, his absence will likely bring into focus the exceptional talent left behind.

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