Ranking the 5 best options for the Atlanta Braves final rotation spot

The Atlanta Braves' starting rotation is stacked, but it needs to be rounded out with a fifth starter.

Bryce Elder, Atlanta Braves
Bryce Elder, Atlanta Braves / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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3. AJ Smith-Shawver is going to stick in this rotation at some point

There were moments last year when AJ Smith-Shawver showed us all that he can be a star in the Atlanta rotation. Admittedly, they were fleeting, and I cannot get the thought of him getting shelled by the Cincinnati Reds' improving offense around Memorial Day out of my head. Regardless, he is one of the Braves' top prospects for a reason. He is going to bank multiple starts in Atlanta this year, possibly sticking, too.

Right now, I would say his chances of making the Opening Day roster are pretty good. He could slot into a bullpen role to start, but he could conceivably take the No. 5 rotation spot from Bryce Elder if he balls out in Spring Training. Because newcomer Reynaldo Lopez is a guarantee to make the roster due to his versatility as a long-arm, I would say Smith-Shawver does offer some of that as well.

Truth be told, I would probably hold Smith-Shawver down in Triple-A for just a bit like I would with Hurston Waldrep for two reasons. One, to give them both consistent starts for the Stripers every fifth day. And two, to delay MLB service time just a bit so that the Braves can retain one more year's worth of control on both. Of the two, Smith-Shawver would get the call up before Waldrep in this situation.

As with Lopez, I could see Smith-Shawver making the team as either a reliever of the No. 5 starter.