On the heels of another disappointing postseason exit for the Atlanta Braves, this feels like an inflection point in the 2023-24 offseason. Alex Anthopoulos knows that this team has some areas to improve upon, but perhaps the most notable is adding to the pitching staff, the starting rotation in particular.
The Braves know that they have a strong 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation for the 2024 season barring any stunning trades with Spencer Strider and Max Fried leading the way. However, this is a group that could make some big splashes in free agency or on the trade market this offseason to further improve the pitching staff.
If that happens, though, what would the Braves dream rotation for the 2024 season look like? Taking into account some of what we know and some things that are unlikely to change, this is what Atlanta's pitching staff could roll out this year -- and every Braves fan would love it.
Braves No. 5 starter: Charlie Morton, RHP
There was plenty of debate throughout the end of the regular season that veteran Charlie Morton might retire and add even more urgency to the Braves trying to fortify the starting rotation. Instead, though, the club picked up the $20 million option for the longtime right-hander who will be 40 years old on Opening Day in the 2024 season.
Despite his advanced age and ending the season on the IL, Morton continued to be a solid back end cog of the Braves rotation in the 2023 season. Morton started 30 games for Atlanta this past year and posted a 3.64 ERA with a 1.43 WHIP. He wasn't spectacular by any stretch but, when the club was hit hard by injuries throughout the organization to rob them of starting pitching depth, Morton was huge.
If we're talking about a dream rotation for the Braves, I believe Morton as the veteran presence with the No. 5 starter is the right call. Yes, that takes a 2023 All-Star in Bryce Elder out of the rotation and raises question marks for the likes of Jared Shuster, AJ Smith-Shawver and Michael Soroka.
However, the Braves' sole goal for the 2024 season should be putting a World Series caliber roster and rotation on the field by any means that are within their power. That's going to lead to tough decisions, and choosing Morton over Elder and others would certainly qualify in that regard.