Braves Dispatch: Why Braves could still win World Series without Spencer Strider

Atlanta Braves' pitcher Spencer Strider (99) throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of home opener baseball game at Truist Park, Friday, April 5, 2024, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin /



Atlanta Braves' pitcher Spencer Strider (99) throws a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of home opener baseball game at Truist Park, Friday, April 5, 2024, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin /

Hey there,

Can the Braves win the World Series without Spencer Strider? This is the prevalent question around baseball over the past week.

The Braves have not yet officially announced anything – they are expected to do so this weekend – but it is possible that Strider (UCL sprain in his right elbow) is out for the season. This would, of course, be the worst-case scenario.

Strider is an ace. And more than that, his competitive attitude and personality are important on the field and in the clubhouse.

Even still, the answer to the question in the first sentence is “yes.” The Braves can still hoist a trophy at season’s end. The road is tougher if Strider is lost for the year, but the Braves already have proved themselves in this area.

In the summer of 2021, Ronald Acuña Jr. – perhaps the National League MVP frontrunner at the time – tore the ACL in his right knee. He missed the rest of the year – the Braves’ march up the standings, their postseason run, their World Series win.

“Obviously we’re gonna miss Strider for sure,” Austin Riley told me Thursday. “But I think, as unfortunate as it is, it’s part of the game and you’ve gotta kind of keep chugging along. The group that we have here, I think, is capable of doing that. We’ve got guys in Triple A that are really good pitchers that can step up and pull weight. You look at ‘21, losing Ronald and then guys that stepped up to be able to make that run, I think it is kind of a testament that it’s definitely possible. You just gotta keep playing the game day by day and see where you’re at at the end of it.”

Last season, the Rangers got only six starts from Jacob deGrom (Tommy John surgery) … and won the World Series.

In 2021, the Braves fielded Acuña in only 82 games … and won the World Series. Their opponent, the Astros, didn’t have Justin Verlander (Tommy John surgery) but still made it to the World Series.

Since their World Series run, the Braves have only improved. They promoted Michael Harris II and Strider. They acquired Sean Murphy. They have Chris Sale.

This is a more complete, more dominant team than the one that held up the trophy.

You could argue the 2024 Braves are much more prepared to absorb the loss of one player – even someone as crucial as Strider.

“Yeah, I think so,” Riley said of that notion. “Like you said, the experience that we have in here, guys that have been through it – a lot of the same guys that are still here that were on that ‘21 run. I think it’s just more of, there’s no panic. There’s an understanding that injuries happen in this game and I think guys know that, that you just gotta keep playing our baseball. Just take a look at (Reynaldo) López: He’s our fifth starter and he’s been nasty, and he’s a really good pitcher. I think that just goes to show the depth that we have.”

He has a point. Reynaldo López isn’t your typical fifth starter. In addition to their talent, the Braves are deep.

And baseball, as cliché as it might be, is a team sport. One player doesn’t make or break a team. Just look at the way the Braves have built this: They are a loaded TEAM – not a group of three superstars trying to carry a bunch of others.

None of this is to disparage Strider or lessen his impact. Losing him is brutal. The Braves are worse than they were a week ago – especially if he’s lost for the year.

But their season is not over, even if his might be.

“You hate to lose (a guy) like that,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said last weekend. “But we’re gonna keep going and fighting hard. It’s happened to a lot of other teams. We’re not the only ones that have been bit by this, this year. That’s just part of it. You deal with it, and that’s why you try to acquire depth in your organization, because you know you’re gonna need it. Nobody is insulated from it, everybody goes through it. There have been multiple teams out there that have dealt with this same thing.”

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Max Fried (54) delivers to an Arizona Diamondbacks batter in the first inning of baseball game Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

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Credit: AP

Extra Innings

-On Monday, players and staffers from the Braves and Mets stood by their respective dugouts at around 3 p.m. at Truist Park and looked up. They were hoping to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse – through proper eyewear, of course.

One of the Braves who did it: Acuña.

These guys are entrenched in a daily grind, but the eclipse took their attention for a few minutes.

-Through two starts, Max Fried’s ERA is 18.00. That’s unsustainable for a pitcher of Fried’s caliber. But it does illustrate his rough start, which no one expected.

He’s surrendered 10 earned runs over five innings. He’s struggled in the first inning in both outings.

After Thursday’s game, Snitker was asked how close he believes Fried is to having one of his dominant outings.

“I hope really close,” Snitker said. “I hope, and I kind of feel that. I’ve been with Max too long now and that guy’s been too good to not feel that way, that he’s just an outing away from getting on a nice run and being one of the elite pitchers in our game.”

-If the Braves need a position player to pitch, Luis Guillorme might be their guy.

In the top of the ninth inning on Thursday, Snitker went to Guillorme, a right-hander for pitching purposes, in an eight-run game. Last season, Nicky Lopez – the utility infielder – was the go-to position player for pitching appearances.

Guillorme has done it before. Before Thursday, he’d allowed two runs over three innings across three outings.

On Thursday, Guillorme served up a grand slam. But he succeeded where it counted: He finished the inning and saved the bullpen from having to cover that frame.

-In the first four series of the season, the Braves have had three games postponed due to inclement weather. They made up the one in Philadelphia – because of a scheduled off day after opening day – but the other two were pushed to the summer.

Good news for the Braves and fans: The team’s next two series are in Miami and Houston – two ballparks with a roof. Barring something ridiculous, the Braves will be able to play on six consecutive days, which hasn’t yet happened this year.