Projecting Braves' postseason rotation plans

September 23rd, 2022

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman's Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

If you want to have some fun over the next few days, project how you think the Braves’ rotation might look during the regular season’s final week and the early postseason rounds. There are a number of different options and the process will remain fluid as it's influenced by whether or not Atlanta wins a fifth consecutive National League East crown.

Before getting into projections, let’s remember the Braves opted to push Spencer Strider’s start back at least a few days after he came to Truist Park with left oblique soreness on Tuesday. So, instead of starting on Saturday in Philadelphia, the heralded rookie might make his next appearance during the following weekend’s big series against the Mets.

And by giving Bryce Elder a spot start against the Nationals on Wednesday, the Braves were able to push Max Fried back a day to face a more formidable Phillies lineup on Thursday. Oh yeah, this also sets Fried up to start the finale of the three-game series against the Mets and Game 1 of either the Wild Card Series or the Division Series.

Funny how all the pieces just fell together with just a little tinkering. Now, let’s project how the pieces might fit together into the first couple of weeks of October.

At Phillies (current series): Fried (Thurs.), Jake Odorizzi (Fri.), Kyle Wright (Sat.) and Charlie Morton (Sun.).

These probables have already been announced by the Braves.

At Nationals (Monday-Wednesday): The Braves could go with either Strider or Elder during Monday’s series opener. Pushing Strider back two days lines him up for the Mets series, but as he nears the end of what is just his second professional season, it might be more beneficial to give Strider an entire week’s worth of rest and still have him available for one of those games against New York, if need be.

With this in mind, I’ll project the Braves to go with Elder (Mon.), Fried (Tues.) and Odorizzi (Wed.) during next week’s series at Nationals Park.

vs. Mets (Sept. 30-Oct.2): Wright (Sept. 30), Strider (Oct. 1) and Fried (Oct. 2).

With the Mets likely to start Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer in the first two games, it only makes sense for the Braves to use their top three starters. As mentioned earlier, this also keeps Fried lined up to start Game 1 of either the Wild Card Series or NLDS.

vs. Marlins (Oct. 3-5): Morton (Oct. 3), Odorizzi (Oct. 4) and Wright or Elder or Kyle Muller (Oct. 5).

If a win on the regular season’s final day could clinch the division, the Braves could start Wright in the series finale. If nothing is at stake, Elder or Muller would likely get the ball.

Wild Card Series (Oct. 7-9): If the Braves don’t win the division, they will host another Wild Card team in a best-of-three series, during which every game will be played at Truist Park.

My projected starters are Fried (Game 1), Strider (Game 2) and Wright (Game 3).

If Wright were to start the regular season finale, he wouldn’t be available for the Wild Card Series. This sets up the possibility of Morton for Game 3 of that series.

NLDS (after winning WC series): If the Braves advance, none of the starters they used in the WC Series will be available to start Game 1 of the NLDS.

So, I’ll project the starters for this best-of-five series to be: Morton (Game 1), Fried (Game 2), Strider (Game 3), Wright (Game 4).

There is no off-day between Games 4 and 5, so the Game 5 option would be Morton.

NLDS (as division winners): The Braves would end the regular season on Oct. 5 and the NLDS wouldn't begin until Oct. 11.

So, with everyone available, I’ll project they go with Fried (Game 1), Strider (Game 2), Wright (Game 3) and Morton (Game 4).

Got it? Cool. I’ll check back next week to point out why these projections no longer make sense.