Did Braves rookie AJ Smith-Shawver earn another crack at fifth-starter role?

AJ Smith-Shawver, Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)
AJ Smith-Shawver, Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Braves might have something in AJ Smith-Shawver going forward as a starter.

Although he did not factor in the decision, Atlanta Braves rookie right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver looked good in his first career big league start on Friday night.

Smith-Shawver made his Major League debut out of the Atlanta bullpen on June 4 vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitched 2.1 innings, allowing no hits, one walk, while striking out three. With Michael Soroka being optioned back to Triple-A Gwinnett following Atlanta’s road series with the Snakes, it felt inevitable that Smith-Shawver would get a serious look at their fifth rotation spot.

On Friday night vs. the Washington Nationals, Smith-Shawver pitched 5.1 innings, allowing three hits, two unearned runs and two walks, while striking out two. Atlanta won the game 3-2 after he had been pulled, but the Braves have now won six in a row with five come-from-behind victories.

Anybody who watched the game on Friday came away impressed with Smith-Shawver’s outing.

Given who the Braves have on their upcoming schedule, Smith-Shawver should get another start.

Atlanta Braves rookie AJ Smith-Shawver has definitely earned another start

Until the Braves get back Max Fried and Kyle Wright off IL, the last two spots in the rotation are very much up for grabs. We know what we are getting most nights when Bryce Elder, Charlie Morton and Spencer Strider toe the rubber. They may have down evenings, but we know what this offense is capable of. Although Smith-Shawver only went up against Washington, he pitched well.

And I think right that is exactly why Smith-Shawver will make his second-ever start with the Braves at some point in the next week or so. Just look at who the Braves have on tap in the middle part of their June schedule. If he were to pitch on five days rest, Smith-Shawver would go again on Wednesday afternoon at the Detroit Tigers on getaway day. After that, it is four vs. lowly Colorado.

Even though a home series vs. the Philadelphia Phillies after the Rockies come to town could be tough sledding, Smith-Shawver is not going to face a contending team like he did in his MLB debut with Arizona. Depending on how Jared Shuster does in his starts during his rookie season as well, there could be even more wiggle room in Smith-Shawver having real staying power in the rotation.

It is all up to Alex Anthopoulos and Brian Snitker, but I like Smith-Shawver’s chances of staying up.

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