Braves General Manager Alex Anthopolous struck out in his attempt to land a top-of-the-rotation arm during the offseason, he said recently on The Bill Shanks Show. Even without a fresh face at the top of the rotation, the Braves enter the season in pretty good hands with Max Fried and Charlie Morton leading the way.
The face of the Braves’ title defense season, however, may depend more on the next two arms in the rotation: Kyle Wright and Ian Anderson. If the young duo can fully establish themselves as mainstays in the rotation, the future in Atlanta is bright.
Anderson is further along than Wright at the moment, having made 24 starts in the 2021 season, finishing with a 3.58 ERA/4.12 FIP over 128 1/3 innings. He then made four starts in the postseason, all four of which the Braves won. In fact, over the past two postseasons, the Braves are 7-1 in games Anderson starts, while he owns a 1.26 ERA over 35 2/3 postseason innings. After 30 career regular-season starts, Anderson’s rotation spot is secure. The only question remaining relates to his ceiling.
Wright, meanwhile, made just two starts with the big league squad during the regular season, and then matched that total in the World Series alone, tossing 5 2/3 innings and serving up just one earned run. Wright should finally get his opportunity to stay in the rotation this year.
The final spot in the rotation is where the Braves were presumably looking to upgrade. Mike Soroka lurks somewhere in the organization, but he can hardly be counted on until proven healthy. For now, they will rely on a depth group that includes Huascar Ynoa, Tucker Davidson, Kyle Muller, Touki Toussaint, and Bryce Elder. That group carries more upside than most depth stables, but for a team with aspirations of back-to-back titles, upside can mask inefficiency.
The Braves have won the division four years running, and they’re the defending World Series champions. To suggest that they need anything is premature. But with the Mets and Phillies both nipping hard at their heels, nothing is guaranteed. It’s certainly interesting to note that Anthopolous explored frontline rotation additions this offseason. As the season progresses and new names become available on the trade market, the Braves may again look to engage the trade market.