Braves Spring Training 5th Starter Battle Update

Dustin Peterson delivers walk-off single, Kolby Allard continues to deal in  Stripers' 7-6 win | Gwinnett Stripers |

If healthy, the Braves have 4 stud starting pitchers solidified in their rotation. My way too early guess for how those 4 will align to start the season is Max Fried, Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton then Kyle Wright. There’s no real story here with the above 4. If healthy, they’ll be in the rotation right away. However, the 5th starter is anyone’s guess at the moment. Let’s take a look at some early numbers and stories coming out of Braves Spring Training 5th Starter Battle Update.

Ian Anderson Develops a Pitch But Flops in Spring Debut

From an inside source way back in November, I was given information that Ian was working on developing a pitch. It was a much needed development in Ian’s journey back to the bigs. I’ve talked about it before, but Ian’s “stuff” just isn’t that great to me and lacks movement necessary to stay consistent. Apparently he agreed and he brought his new toy, a slider, to spring and wowed coaches while baffling internal hitters. It was a welcomed nugget of info before actual games started. However, when the actual games started and Ian faced players in-game, it was less than ideal. Ian threw 1.1 innings, gave up 3 hits, 2 being dingers, 3 walks, only 1 strike out, and allowed 4 runs before he was mercifully removed from the game. If Ian has developed a pitch, but his FB still remains straight, I’m really not sure that makes things any better. I hope he can figure it out for his sake and our’s.

Is that Kolby Allard or Kobe Allard?

The talk of the town right now for the 5th starting pitching job goes to Kolby Allard, who has combined for 5 innings of 1.80 ERA ball, striking out 4, and only walking 1. And while Spring Training guns can sometimes be notoriously hot, Allard, who has been sitting 89-91 for years, was pumping 92-94 in his last outing. Comparing his arsenal from last year to current, it’s obvious that Allard put in a lot of offseason work in a Driveline type atmosphere. If he can continue to keep hitters honest with 92-94, this offseason trade that most, including me, thought was a throwaway, could be a real steal that’s talked about for years. For me, I need to see more and I’m not on the hype train quite yet, but the pitch featured below, is definitely new and it’s glorious.

Are there Grapes on them Vines?

Darius Vines has also done some developing this offseason. While his changeup has always had a plus feel, this also feels different from what I saw out of him last year. This is a serious plus-pitch that hopefully can find an accompaniment.

Grip-N-Rip: Dodding the Corners

There are some pitchers that are going to have serious growing pains when it comes to the pitch clock, but I’m comfortable in saying that Dylan Dodd will not be one of them. He was made for the pitching clock. Dodd doesn’t waste his time with internal debates, he hears number, he throws number, and by the hand of Zeus, he’s been the best looking pitcher in camp, throwing 4.1 innings with 7Ks, 0BBs, 4 Hits, and an unblemished ERA. Oh yeah…he’s also hitting 96.

That’ll do, Grip-N-Rip.

The Elder Statesmen

Bryce Elder had a redeeming outing today after getting lit up his first 2 outings. I still have very low expectations for Elder. He could very well be a guy that sticks in the majors for 6-7 years as a swingman, but there’s nothing in the stuff or the MILB results that scream starting pitcher. He had that one outing where he was dotting the plate with late breaking cutters, but I’ve never really been THAT impressed. A dude on Twitter comped him to Kevin Millwood and I have no idea why. He seems more Jeff Bennett to me.

M-m-m-m-m-m-m-m- MIYEEKE Soroka

What to expect from a guy that hasn’t pitched in 2 years, has had 2 torn achilles, tendinitis in his elbow, and now a pulled hamstring. My advice: Nothing, at least until he proves he can be healthy. We all love Soroka and hopefully we see him before spring breaks.

A Percentage Based Prediction that Means Nothing

Just reading the tea leaves, putting some stock in early spring numbers, I’m going to give it a go in the for of percent on where I think the 5th starter battle is right now:

  • Ian Anderson: 15%. My guess is Ian gets some time at AAA to hone in on the new pitch.
  • Kolby Allard: 21%. Allard is throwing well and could very well be the “short leash” type SP the Braves open up with as the 5th starter.
  • Darius Vines: 10%. Vines is becoming a well-polished pitcher, but I think his stuff needs a 1/2 season before getting the call.
  • Dylan Dodd: 20%. Dodd is impressing more people than just me and it might be the kind of bold move that AA would go with, especially considering how comfortable he is with the pitch clock.
  • Bryce Elder: 23%. While I don’t think Elder is anything more than a 6th-7th starter in our system, he’s already made his debut and allowing him a couple rotations might be the smart move before starting clocks.
  • Michael Soroka: 11%. Gosh. This sucks to write, but I don’t think Soroka has enough time to get ready and I also think it’ll be much later in the season (June-ish) before we see him.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

28 thoughts on “Braves Spring Training 5th Starter Battle Update”

  1. I’m pulling for Dylan Dodd to make the team this year.

    Also Victor Vodnik, Cal Conley, Roel Ramirez, Lucas Luetge and my main man Spencer Strider.

    (get well soon, Blake)

  2. Baseball is just like dinosaur DNA — it’ll always find a way. I have no problem whatsoever with running a Ted Williams shift against a pull hitter. If it means that there are fewer one-dimensional pull hitters in baseball, that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

    I don’t think Bryce Elder is likely to be an amazing back-end starter — for some reason, it seems like the Mets always have some random guy who’s infuriatingly effective at the back of their rotation, whether it’s Magill or Peterson or, in an earlier era, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee or Steven Matz. If Elder could work as a swingman/spot starter and twirl 100 innings across the pen and the rotation and hold an era in the low 4’s, I’d be thrilled.

  3. I think Elder’s floor is a 5th starter and his ceiling is a 5th starter. What I loved about the guy in the minors is he gets deep into games consistently. I think he will be a great 5th starter for the Braves at points —-he will get deep into ball games and be an efficient 5th starter. I believe he will be traded when the new crop of guys are ready who have higher ceilings. That said he has been a great draft pick for the Braves and I really appreciate all he has done and will do for the team this year and possibly next.

    Ian is scary for me. He could be amazing again. He could be j jurries—I don’t know.

    Michael Soroka I don’t feel could in the best case go more than 100-120 innings so letting him start later seems right.

    Allard could be a miracle pick up—as the Braves were willing to give up 10 million just to get rid of Ordor is he. To actually pick up someone who I thought would make 4 to 5 poopy spot starts —to someone who could make 8-12 helpful starts ??? Awesome! Maybe even more.

    Vines has really been way better than I expected.

    Dodd has been better than I expected—and I had big expectations. If he keeps this up man.

    The AAA starting line up could rival some teams like the reds/pirates if they keep improving like this. Very excited.

  4. FWIW, Baseball Savant believes that the ST radar guns were cooked a bit as they have Allard topping out at 92.8 and sitting at 91.2.

  5. 2 Questions for the BJ regulars:

    Who do you think will break camp as the 5th starter?

    Who do you think will be the next young player extended?

  6. I’ll bite.

    Elder for fifth starter out of camp. It’s mainly by default. Soroka won’t be ready, they will decide that Ian needs to spend more time at AAA working on his issues, and the younger guys, while appealing, haven’t done enough yet in the minors. Elder is at least a known quantity, even if he does not have the upside potential of. five or six of his competitors. It will be a short leash, though. If any of the other guys puts together several good starts at AAA, they’ll get the call sooner rather than later.

    I’d love to see Grissom get the extension some time in the last third of the season.. That would mean that he would have exceeded expectations in the field and maybe at the plate.

  7. All of that makes sense to me, @7.

    Will Smith finally comes off the board – one year, $1.5 million. Hoo boy. And Brad Hand got $2 million. That’s got to be a slap in the face for both.

  8. Too early to say. If Ian figures it out it’s him. If he looks consistently like the last start it would likely be Elder.

  9. I like thinking Kolby will make it and Soroka will follow when ready. I hope Ian pulls a “Riley” and figures it out at AAA. We’ll need both Soroka and Anderson next year when Charlie is done.

  10. Ian had one ST start. Hope the next starts go better that he’ll make it out of camp as the 5th starter. Agree with Tfloyd on Grissom.

  11. Here’s today’s lineup:

    1. R. Acuna Jr. RF
    2. M. Olson 1B
    3. A. Riley 3B
    4. T. d’Arnaud C
    5. M. Harris II CF
    6. V. Grissom SS
    7. E. Rosario LF
    8. M. Ozuna DH
    9. O. Arcia 2B
    10. Morton, P

    Could be pretty good, y’all.

  12. And 3 more K’s in his second inning. The slider looks alright, his changeup looks great.

    Have to say, I really like the new pace of play.

  13. My scouting report on Ian.

    Mixed well. Change up looked good. Slicer was fine, but didn’t look like a plus pitch. Fastball is still same and relies on elite control to be a plus pitch. There’s just no movement.

  14. I know it doesn’t matter but our spring training minor league pitching filler is getting hammered once again…yikes

  15. @17 Yeah, seems like a common theme. Our Minor League scrubs seem worse than everyone else’s minor league scrubs.

  16. I mean, last-place farm system. That doesn’t just mean fewer blue-chippers, it means less overall depth. Shouldn’t surprise anybody.

  17. A red hot Matt Olson with no shift? Things could get interesting for him this year.

    In other news, Ian has plenty of time to take the 5th spot. Elder is the default, granted, but Ian just needs a couple more outings like he did yesterday and he’s in. Too much upside and experience.

    Wouldn’t have expected Allard to potentially earn the 6th spot, but here we are. Might be him and Elder sharing that. If Soroka’s healthy in May, hot dang.

  18. To me, there’s not even a second thought between Elder and Allard. One guy has an ERA in MLB over 6 and the other has fared pretty darn well providing 1.0 WAR in only 54 IP.

    But what do I know?

  19. I’m with Chief on Allard. Back in the dark days of the rebuild, about the only hope to be found was on the great Rome team that had Fried, Soroka, and Allard among its stellar rotation. I had high hopes for him 6-7 years ago. Unfortunately, since then he’s not shown that he can consistently get big league hitters out.

    Having said that, I’d love him to prove us wrong. It would be a great story if he can turn into a productive major league starter. You’ve got to like his determination and resilience, and I assume the Braves have seen something in him that is worth taking a chance on. But I’m not going to get my hopes up until we see sustained results.

  20. Kolby Allard has pitched in 5 major league seasons and has a cumulative WAR of -1.75

    There are 121 pitchers in MLB history who had a cumulative WAR of -1.75 or less after their first five seasons. This isn’t that surprising, because most pitchers aren’t given five years of chances with this little success.

    Of these 121 pitchers, however, 18 turned their careers around and generated at least 3 WAR in the rest of their careers. The bigest turnaround was Ray Herbert, who had generated -2.16 WAR after 5 years, but lasted another 11 years (until 1966), generating 18.4 WAR in that time.

    The only ones to pitch in this century (First 5 WAR/Rest of Career WAR) are:
    David Weathers(-1.92/12.81)
    Liam Hendriks (-2.3/11.5+)
    Andrew Miller(-2.83/11.32)
    Brian Bohanon(-1.77/9.64)
    Kevin Ritz(-1.78/6.89)
    Giovanni Carrara(-2.35/4.16)

    So the odds are agianst Kolby, but it’s not impossible.

  21. There is some general sense that base stealing is going to increase, but has anyone seen any estimate how much the rule changes will actually increase base stealing percentage?

    For example, if we go with the rule of thumb that you need a 75% success rate for the stolen base to be a good play, then how many players currently below 75% do we expect to cross the 75% threshold to make it a good risk? Is it expected to help them 1%, 5%, 10% or what?

    Base stealing is presumably now an even better play for runners already above that rate, and there are many runners for which no rule change will ever make it a good play. So, while elite base stealers may attempt to steal even more often, it seems to me that most of any increase will come from that group of runners who can cross the 75% threshold. I’d love to know if anyone has estimated the increase in success rate for that group.

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