Bryce Elder's good may not be good enough to win Braves No. 5 starter battle

Bryce Elder burst onto the scene last year with the Braves and became a viable starter. However, he's got some stiff competition this spring.

Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Three
Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Three / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

Bryce Elder put together a strong campaign in 2023 with the Atlanta Braves.

The 24-year-old right-hander burst onto the scene with a strong first half and ultimately finished the season with a record of 12-4 and an ERA of 3.81 in his 31 starts.

However, even after a strong rookie campaign, his spot in the Braves' rotation is far from secure.

While Elder does his best to reclaim his rotation spot, he faces stiff competition from Reynaldo Lopez, who was signed in the offseason. And though Lopez has traditionally been a reliever, there is reason to believe he could be an effective starter.

Elder held the Boston Red Sox to just one run and two hits over 3.1 innings on Thursday. But Lopez pitched three scoreless innings and surrendered just one walk while striking out four batters.

Elder may be edged out by Lopez

While Elder has been effective, reclaiming his spot in the rotation won't be easy, as Lopez has come on quite strong this spring.

Granted, the Braves aren't 100 percent certain about Lopez either, but while Elder lasted slightly longer, Lopez's line was ultimately better in Thursday's game.

Should Lopez win the job out of spring training, Elder could ultimately find himself beginning the season at Triple-A Gwinnett. That's how he began the 2023 season before getting the call to the Majors and performing quite nicely for the Braves.

Lopez has only made one start over the past two seasons, but is proving to be a viable option for the Braves. Elder obviously is a natural starter, so there could be a chance that he gets his rotation spot back.

Plus, there are still three weeks left until spring training wraps up and the regular season kicks off.

Time will tell who gets the edge in the competition for the final rotation spot.

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