Braves should be excited about their future rotation

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Braves manager Brian Snitker says "there's a lot to be excited for this club going forward."

Credit: Atlanta Braves

ARLINGTON, Texas — However Game 7 unfolds, the Braves can come away from this season feeling confident about their rotation’s outlook.

Much of the conversation surrounding the Braves was focused on starting pitching, which proved the team’s only true weakness in the 60-game regular season. They entered the campaign with pitching questions, though they didn’t lack quantity. They wound up losing Mike Soroka, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez, Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb for varying reasons, and that depth was wiped out.

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But when they enter the offseason, they’ll do so knowing they have the next great trio of Braves starters. Max Fried cemented himself as a frontline starter during the season and the postseason, when he’s proved up for the moment. Ian Anderson, who didn’t debut until late August, surpassed expectations with his performance and maturity.

Then there’s Soroka, who looked like he was building off his All-Star 2019 season before tearing his Achilles in his third start. The Braves overcame his injury, but one can’t help thinking about how this run would look with him slotted into the rotation.

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Assuming Soroka makes a full recovery, he could miss little if any time next season. When he rejoins the rotation, the Braves will have a fearsome three atop the group. Soroka doesn’t turn 24 until March. Fried will be 27 when next season begins. Anderson will turn 23 in May. Not a bad nucleus.

The rotation doesn’t stop with them. Kyle Wright, who just turned 25, showed promise down the stretch. He had two postseason starts, one good and one terrible, but he’s made strides to the point the Braves should feel good with him at the back of their rotation.

Bryse Wilson is a wild card. He spent most of the regular season at the alternate training site. In his first career playoff start, which he made out of the team’s desperation, he outdueled Clayton Kershaw and beat the Dodgers in Game 4.

Braves starting pitcher Bryse Wilson (46) gets a fist-bump from catcher Travis d'Arnaud following the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in NLCS Game 4 Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

One performance won’t make Wilson’s career, but his recent play is encouraging that he’ll be, at worst, quality pitching depth next season. The same can be said of Huascar Ynoa, who can be used as a starter or reliever.

“The emergence of some of these guys, the maturity they’ve shown, just at the end of all this, the last two or three weeks, has given us a lot of things to feel really good about,” manager Brian Snitker said. “And how they’ve handled these situations and been through all this. Going into next year, you feel really good about the depth we have again and the development of a lot of these young players.”

Because of their depth, the Braves could use their resources (both financial and trade assets) elsewhere. Certainly, it’s fun to think about inserting Trevor Bauer into the mix, but realistically, the Braves might be better served spending on, say, retaining Marcell Ozuna and keeping the strong bullpen while making more modest additions to the rotation.

Whichever direction they go, they’ll start with Soroka, Fried and Anderson. Other than their opponent in the National League Championship Series, there might not be another NL team capable of matching that youthful trio.

“This has been a great experience for these guys,” Snitker said. “This whole run has been something else. Just like the first time they went through a pennant race and experiencing that. Now, to get deep in the playoffs and see what we’re capable of. And I think we’re going to get stronger as some of these young guys mature and get another year on them. Mike Soroka comes back. There’s a lot to be excited for with this club going forward.”

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