The 2023 Atlanta Braves achieved all they did, in part, because of the emergence of Bryce Elder in the starting rotation. With two weeks remaining in Spring Training, Elder was sent to AAA Gwinnett. The young-right hander was the Opening Day starter for the Stripers, but made 31 starts in Atlanta. He even made the All-Star team.

Elder’s season really was the tale of two halves. Through the first half of the season, Elder was 7-2 with a 2.97 ERA and was a vital cog in the Braves having a stranglehold on the NL East and the MLB by the break. His FIP always hovered between 1.0 and 1.35 above his ERA and advanced metrics people clamored that he would eventually regress to the mean.

Annoying little brother

When he was called up because Max Fried was injured, I wrote here that Elder would succeed if he could channel his inner little brother.

Little brother’s always seem to poke and prod and illicit a response from their big brother that gets the big brother in trouble. Well, Elder channeled that little brother pretty well through his first 18 starts.

Unfortunately, the metrics wonks were right. In the second half of the season, Elder struggled to command the zone. He didn’t nibble near as effectively. And like that little brother, he got the crap kicked out of him a few times along the way. The good news with Elder is he threw at least five innings 26 times. The bad news is that his last two starts only lasted 3.2 innings. And the playoff loss to the Philthies lasted just 2.2 innings. That start was a head-scratcher!

Respect your (Bryce) Elder

Fatigue? Perhaps, Bryce had never logged this many innings. However, with someone like Bryce Elder, the plate ump matters and his ability to stay out of the middle of the zone matters, too. 2023 was a great season for Elder. According to Baseball Reference, he had a 2.9 WAR season. Bryce has every reason to feel confident that he can stay in the Braves 2024 plans as a back of the rotation arm. I will take 12-4 from my fifth starter every day!