The Braves have used eight starting pitchers in June, including three rookies and a high-leverage rehab assignment. Yet ahead of Friday’s series opener against Miami, the Braves have a 3.74 ERA, fifth best in the majors.
“Shows how much depth we really have, that (Braves general manager) Alex (Anthopoulos) makes sure that we have for situations like that,” catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “Like when a Cy Young candidate and 20-game winner go down, everyone’s still been doing well and we’ve been winning games.”
The team’s 20-4 June record, the best in the majors, has been driven largely by the offense. The pitching has not been dominant. Yet behind National League ERA leader Bryce Elder, the staff has done well enough to capitalize on the routine offensive explosions.
Even without Fried and Wright, manager Brian Snitker, Anthopoulos and the Braves organization have pressed the right buttons to keep the team winning. The latest, 25-year-old left-hander Kolby Allard, was on a strict pitch count Wednesday in his third appearance since tearing his oblique. Despite this, he threw 4-2/3 scoreless innings to help the Braves to a 3-0 victory over the Twins.
The team has used 10 starting pitchers (not including three bullpen games), matching the total used all of last season. The Braves pitchers are less an island of misfit toys as they have been a patchwork assortment of arms. Somehow, that group has been one of the best in the big leagues.
D’Arnaud attributes it to the team’s character in the clubhouse.
“I think just because we’re all good people, more than anything,” d’Arnaud said. “We have an accumulation of people who have been top prospects who failed and come back and succeeded. We have the guys who have been superstars. We have guys who have 15 years in the league. Everyone’s been through everything so well, and everyone’s such good people that they’re able to communicate so well.”
Snitker credits the organization, both for its creativity and for player development. Of the eight starting pitchers in June, seven were developed recently by the Braves. Charlie Morton, the eighth, was drafted by the team but spent 12 years outside the organization before returning.
“We’re not bashful about pulling the string on somebody … and giving them an opportunity, which I think is probably good,” Snitker said. “Those guys in the minor leagues got to feel like they’re all in play, and you’re gonna get an opportunity to do good. And when you do good, you’re noticed.”
Strider agrees with the organizational strength, but he also praised d’Arnaud and fellow catcher Sean Murphy for helping pitchers step in for Fried, Wright, and others.
“You’ve got two pretty calming presences behind the plate there between Travis and Sean,” Strider said. “They’re able to take anybody and sort of make them a lot better than they would be.”
Allard credited d’Arnaud, too, saying he rarely shook him off, and said the organization does a good job of bringing players up to the majors and preparing them to succeed. However, he did acknowledge that he felt more than just confidence in his own ability.
“Every time we’re going out there, we’ve got a good chance to win the game with the guys we got in this locker room,” Allard said. “It’s definitely a good feeling.”