The Atlanta Braves have created one of the biggest powerhouses in recent memory. Their offense remains one of the most potent forces of hitters that have been put together in the 21st century.
But there are two sides to the game, with the other side being pitching. As we inch closer to the postseason, there have been serious question marks surrounding the Braves rotation this October. Charlie Morton just landed on the 15-day IL, making him ineligible to pitch in the NLDS.
With that being said, let's break down what the abbreviated Braves rotation could look like here soon as they vie for a second World Series crown in the last three years.
Projected Atlanta Braves rotation for the 2023 MLB Postseason
Spencer Strider has an obvious spot at the top of this Atlanta rotation. He has been dominant this year and rarely doesn't give Atlanta a chance to win the game.
Atlanta is 25-6 in Strider starts this season, including 19 games in which he has been awarded the win. Of those six losses, four of them have been within three runs.
Strider will anchor this rotation, matching up fairly well with any ace in the league. As long as he's healthy, you can pencil him in at the top of this rotation.
Behind Strider is the excellent lefty, Max Fried. The argument can (and should) be made that Fried has been better than Strider this year.
A quick look into Fried's 2023 will show two distinct sections of his season: pre and post-injury. Both sections of his season have been excellent, but he's been utterly dominant since his return.
In nine starts since returning, Fried is 6-0 while the Braves are 8-1 in those starts. He hasn't allowed more than four earned runs in a game since returning and he has kept his ERA around 2.55 for the year.
Fried and Strider are interchangeable at the top of this rotation. This duel-ace reality gives them a healthy advantage, especially in Game 2's across the entire postseason.
Bryce Elder/Bullpen game
This is where things get dicey for Atlanta. Charlie Morton was placed on the 15-day IL recently, making him ineligible to pitch in the NLDS. That leaves the Braves with a few feasible options.
They can start Bryce Elder and move to a three-man rotation. They can move Elder to the bullpen, opt for an opener, before handing the ball to Elder for a few innings, also in a three-man rotation. Or they can throw Elder in Game 3 and bullpen a potential Game 4.
As of now, it wouldn't be surprising to see Atlanta drop to a three-man rotation for the NLDS and opt for an opener. This idea would allow Elder to face the top of the lineup one or two times while giving the Braves (hopefully) 4-5 innings out of the bullpen.
They could then turn over to their backend guys and shut the series down from there. If it is to go four or five games, Strider and Fried would return on full rest.