No one expected right-hander Allan Winans to perform like Spencer Strider. The Braves could have used an adequate start from Winans against the Mets on Thursday. Then they at least would have a temporary solution for their beleaguered rotation. Instead, the Mets beat up Winans while securing the series victory Thursday at Truist Park.

Braves pitching hasn’t reached the crisis stage yet. It’s much too early for that. But there’s no easy answer for how to replace the hole left by Strider, who could be in line for Tommy John elbow surgery. Winans got the first crack at it and faltered while surrendering six earned runs over five innings in the 16-4 loss.

The Braves could have skipped Winans in the rotation after a bad weather forecast postponed Wednesday’s game. They decided to give him and the other starters another day of rest. Maybe that will benefit the Braves later. But the immediate outcomes were a non-competitive start by Winans, another loss to the Mets and a continued search for another reliable starter.

“Our eye is always going to be on the long haul here, the long season,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We’ve done it for as long as I’ve been here. You have to look ahead.”

The Braves sent Winans back to Triple-A Gwinnett following the game. They’ll try someone else when they next need a starter. Dylan Dodd was the scheduled starter for Gwinnett on Thursday night, followed by Darius Vines and Bryce Elder.

Said Snitker: “We’re going to have to figure out a way. We’ve got a big hole to fill, and it’s probably going to be done by a number of different people for now. Hopefully, at some point we get settled in to that fifth spot in the rotation.”

Elder should get a long look, eventually. He was an All-Star in 2023 and has a 2.61 ERA through two starts for Gwinnett this season. The Braves could scratch Elder from his next start for Gwinnett if they want him to take the next turn in the rotation for them Tuesday.

The fifth starter won’t matter so much if the Braves hit like usual and the veteran pitchers perform as expected. The batters usually do their part, but so far, No. 2 starter Max Fried isn’t. Charlie Morton got beat up in his last turn. It’s a long season, but a good start from Winans would have calmed the rough waters for Braves pitching.

He couldn’t do it. The defense did Winans no favors. Also, he hadn’t pitched in a game since April 2 for Gwinnett. The circumstances weren’t in his favor. That’s another reason why it felt as if the Braves were willing to take a loss in this game for potential long-term benefits.

It was a short stay in the big leagues for Winans, who has allowed six or more earned runs in three of seven career starts. New York scored a run in the first after Austin Riley couldn’t handle a sharp grounder for an infield hit and Starling Marte scored on Adam Duvall’s wayward throw to the plate. The Mets tallied two unearned runs in the second and then scored four runs on three consecutive hits for extra bases in the third.

The Braves can absorb one or two bad starts from their pitchers during each turn of the rotation. They score enough runs to win those type of games more often than most teams. The Braves did that in both of Fried’s poor outings. They nearly did it to the Mets on Monday.

The Braves couldn’t generate enough offense to get out of the 7-0 hole Thursday. They didn’t get a hit against lefty Jose Quintana until Matt Olson tripled with two outs in the fourth. The odds for a trademark rally plummeted when the Mets scored three unearned runs in the seventh following Riley’s error. The Braves surrendered by sending out position player Luis Guillorme to pitch the ninth; he gave up a grand slam to pinch hitter Tyrone Taylor.

After the loss, the Braves headed to Miami for a three-game series. Fried is set to start the opener Friday. The Marlins began Thursday with the worst record in the majors (2-11) while scoring 3.62 runs per game. It would seem to be a good time for Fried to get right.

I figured Fried wouldn’t have poor starts in back-to-back outings. That hadn’t happened since he became an established starter. Three bad starts in a row seems out of the question considering Fried’s track record. He has to be better, right?

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

Strider fits that bill. He likely won’t pitch for the Braves again this season. Winans didn’t do enough as a fill-in to get another chance. The Braves eventually need to find someone who can hold down that spot and for Fried to get back to being Fried.

If those things don’t happen relatively soon, then their pitching will become a crisis.