The Atlanta Braves entered Wednesday with a 7 1/2 game lead in the NL East, good for the biggest lead in the majors. Perhaps spotting themselves that kind of cushion early will come in handy late, because there have been two big blows to the starting rotation this week.
On Tuesday, we learned that ace Max Fried was with a forearm strain (remember, he has Tommy John surgery in his past). The expectation is that Fried will miss months instead of weeks.
Ditto for Kyle Wright. On Wednesday, Wright told reporters (MLB.com) that he thinks he'll be out longer than Fried. The timeline is at least two months, maybe longer. Wright is dealing with a shoulder injury for the second time this season and those are very worrisome.
That leaves young studs Spencer Strider and Bryce Elder in the rotation with elder statesman Charlie Morton. From there, the Braves will be looking to piece it together moving forward. Here are some of the options:
- Mike Soroka - Remember him? The up-and-coming ace tore his Achilles and needed multiple surgeries on it. He's 25 now and has made five starts in Triple-A, pitching to a 5.23 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. Most of the bad was concentrated to one atrocious outing (10 H, 7 ER in 3 IP), but he still isn't dominating.
- Dylan Dodd - The lefty has made three starts in the majors this year and his numbers are bad, but it was two good enough starts with one terrible. Of course, he's been bad in Triple-A, too.
- Jared Shuster - He wasn't good at all in his two starts at the MLB level to start the year, but has thrown better in the minors and the former first-round pick has talent.
- Allan Winans - The 27-year-old has been in the minors for five years after being picked up in the 17th-round of the 2018 draft. He has a 3.60 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 35 Triple-A innings. He would require an additional roster move, as he's not on the 40-man roster.
- New acquisition - Braves GM Alex Anthopolous has shown the shrewd ability to supplement his roster in season via the trade, but it'll be tougher this time around because he's emptied so much of the farm in trades like this in addition to offseason acquisitions like Matt Olson and Sean Murphy.
- Bullpen games - On Wednesday night, the Braves are using reliever Dylan Lee as an opener in front of their deep bullpen, but it's not a model that'll work every turn through the rotation and certainly can't fill two holes every time through.
As noted above, the Braves have spotted themselves a very nice cushion in the division. They. They are, however, facing plenty of adversity in their rotation right now as they will be without two of their more important players for a large chunk of the season.