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.