LEFT. FOREARM. STRAIN. No fan wants to hear those words uttered about one of their favorite team’s pitchers. However, Max Fried isn’t just a fan favorite, he’s a perennial All Star and Cy Young candidate and the cornerstone to the Braves Starting Pitching rotation for the past 5 years. In those 5 years, Max has:

  • A 3.02 ERA
  • Won 72% of his decisions
  • Thrown 598.2 innings
  • Made 104 starts

At best, the Braves hope that rest will heal the left forearm strain, but there’s nothing about this injury that doesn’t come with huge risk should Max rev up too quickly, so I expect a very, very lengthy IL stint. While I might be accused of being DOOOOOOMED, my guess we don’t see him again until after the All-Star break.

Unfortunately, the Braves weren’t really in a position to lose Max as Kyle Wright is having his own problems with a right shoulder flare up and, like Max, I can’t imagine that the front office will be in a hurry to get him back on the mound. Compound those 2 with the fact that rotation hopeful, Ian Anderson is on the shelf for the rest of this year and most of the next, Anthopoulos now a a full-blown dilemma on his hands as a rotation of 5 is now down to 2. So…where does the rotation go from here? I believe that Anthopoulos, who might be the best GM in baseball and the best GM in roster manipulation, will utilize starting pitchers with options to fill in the 4th and 5th spots of the rotation to keep the line moving, and if said candidates fail, the trade deadline agenda will become clear. Let’s take a look at some guys within the org that could be part of the Braves starting pitching rotation soon.

Braves Starting Pitching Rotation: Who’s on the 40-man for AA?

Unless someone comes from out of nowhere like Spencer Strider did back in 2021, Anthopoulos’s pecking order for MLB starts will come from the 40-man roster and those names are:

Filling one of these holes permanently with Dylan Dodd or Jared Shuster seems like priority one and my money is on Dylan Dodd being the first to get that shot considering his most recent outing where he threw 6 innings of 3 run ball and danced around base runners to keep the team in it.

If Dodd turns into Dudd, Shuster could be next in line to grab the bulk of starts. His last start was exceptional and I’m a firm believer in small samples when it comes to the minors. If Shuster can continue to stay on the 4 corners of the zone, he can be an average MLB starting pitcher and with this Braves offense, that’s all they need.

And while I know that every Braves fan wants to see Maple Maddux, Mr. Michael Soroka, back in the bigs, I’ve watched him quite a bit and he’s still adjusting to being back on the mound regularly for the first time in 2 years. It’s also been obvious that fatigue has set in during this stretch of starts. While I wouldn’t count out a spot start for Soroka, then a trip back to AAA, I just don’t think he’s physically ready to be a regular in a big league rotation quite yet.

Darius Vines would’ve likely been at the top of this list to start the season, but has been on the IL the whole year with an undisclosed injury and there’s no word on a timetable for his return.

Who Else is at AAA?

“Well…the answer is 23 other dudes are on the AAA roster, Ryan. Do you know how to count?” Well…inner voice, I was referring to starting pitchers that could be potential SPs in the bigs and, unfortunately, that is a short list…the shortest of lists: 1.

Allan Winans is a 27 y/o RHP who can’t break a windowpane with his fastball, but is good at getting hitters out. He’s carrying a 3.60 ERA at AAA with a strong 1.06 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9 and 9.3 K/9. He’s the kind of guy that can fill in for a few starts, get DFA’d, and likely return back to AAA as “depth”. If the Braves needed to break glass in case of emergency, he’d be first in line.

What About Those Dudes in Pearl, MS?

Unlike Spencer Strider when he was in Pearl, there’s no one yelling, “HEY! WHAT ABOUT ME?!” at Double-A. Tanner Gordon would have been first in line on this list should he’ve stayed at Pearl, but he was promoted to AAA a few days back and only lasted 1.1 innings and gave up 9 runs. No, that’s not a typo.

25 y/o Domingo Robles is putting up great numbers at AA, but started the year at AAA, got rocked, and then got sent back down. 21 y/o Luis De Avila has a good ERA, but he’s still allowing way too many baserunners and, in all likelihood, would get destroyed outside the friendly pitching parks in the Southern League.

One guy to keep an eye on might be former Royals RP, and one of the most unfortunate surnames for a relief pitcher, Scott Blewett. The Braves are allowing the 27 y/o to start and his results have gotten better every start. His last outing, he threw 6 innings of 0 earned run baseball, only allowing 3 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 8.

Could AA Call an Audible and Stretch out a Current Reliever?

Right now, the Braves have an overflowing bullpen and a diminishing rotation, yet the Braves have several arms in the bullpen that regularly throw multiple innings. Up until 2017, one of those guys was a regular in the rotation: Collin McHugh. Another, Jesse Chavez, was made into a starter for 3 years in Oakland and had strong numbers. If the Braves needed to alleviate the packed bullpen, it would be easy to do by moving one of the 2 above to the rotation, and my hope is that it would be Collin McHugh.

The Pecking Order

Of the guys listed above, between active roster, 40-man, and MiLB guys, I think the pecking order would be:

  1. Dylan Dodd
  2. Jared Shuster
  3. Collin McHugh
  4. Jesse Chavez
  5. Michael Soroka
  6. Scott Blewett
  7. Allan Winans
  8. Tanner Gordon
  9. Domingo Robles

Breakdown: When looking at an exercise like this, one always has to consider outside the org options, but when looking internally, I feel pretty certain about 1-5, but Blewett could rocket up this list with a few more good starts. Still, if I were betting, Dodd and Shuster are the first up and if that doesn’t work, I think we will see some temporary starters due to need.

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