Thursday’s the day: Braves Baseball is back.
The defending National League East champion Atlanta will begin their pennant defense as they seek their fourth straight crown in one of baseball’s most entertaining divisions.
The opening-day roster will look similar to last season’s that was a win away from the World Series.
Headlined by reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman, young slugger Ronald Acuna, Jr and Marcell Ozuna’s return on a four-year, $65 million extension, the Braves’ offense remains strong.
The revamped pitching staff will feature Ian Anderson, a late bloomer in 2020, and critical offseason acquisitions Charlie Morton and Drew Smiley. Of course, Max Fried remains the ace of the rotation.
But who will operate the fifth spot in the rotation? That answer is here, in the inaugural session of the Braves Bulletin.
Welcome to the initial installment of Braves Bulletin, your weekly destination for rumors I hear, performance reviews, news, and anything note-worthy.
Bryse Wilson wins the fifth spot in the pitching rotation
Wilson may not have been outstanding this spring, but his consistency opened the eyes of many. He posted a 2-0 record with a 1.98 ERA in 13 2/3 innings this spring. Entering Spring Training, the team expected Wilson to be behind Kyle Wright for the fifth spot in the rotation.
However, Brian Snitker, who enters his seventh year as the Braves manager, gave insight into the situation.
“Kyle would be the first to tell you not everything is clicking on all cylinders,” Snitker said. “We all see the stuff. My God, it’s just crazy. And that’s OK, you know if he just keeps working and refining his craft … we’re going to need him at some point. We’re going to use them all.”
Snitker will indeed use “them all” at some point when it comes to his young arms as Wilson was also sent to the alternate site but will likely return for the second trip through the starting rotation. The first week will probably feature a bullpen day for the Braves.
Max Fried will get the ball to start the Braves season
Fried showed up and showed out as he became the star attraction every fifth day.
With the ascension to ace status being a bright spot last year, reported have confirmed Fried will start on Opening Day against the Philadelphia Phillies. The California native put the team on his left bicep and was a workhorse for a rotation that floundered for a large part of 2020 after his comrade Mike Soroka went down with a torn Achilles early in the season.
The Braves will need to start the season well from their first few series’, and handing the ball to Fried to begin the 2021 season should come as no surprise.
Even with the acquisitions made this offseason, not having Fried open the season would be a travesty to the 27-year-old. He deserves the ball in Philadelphia on April 1, and now he knows for sure that he will get it.