Braves set Opening Day roster

April 7th, 2022

The 2021 World Series champions have announced their Opening Day roster. Unlike some recent seasons, the Braves didn’t make any roster additions during the final days of Spring Training. So William Contreras, Spencer Strider and Tucker Davidson all get to experience the thrill of beginning this season with the reigning champs.

Contreras, Strider and Davidson had never previously been placed on an Opening Day roster. Contreras began the 2020 season with the Braves, but he wasn’t officially on the roster; he was added to the active roster after both veteran catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers were placed on the COVID injured list, a few hours before the season began.

Because Spring Training was shortened after the recent lockout, all teams will reportedly be permitted to carry 28 players (no limit on the number of pitchers) through May 1.  All rosters will be reduced to 26 players with a maximum of 13 pitchers on May 2.

Starting pitchers (7): Charlie Morton, Max Fried, Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Huascar Ynoa, Tucker Davidson, Spencer Strider
Coming off a shortened Spring Training, the Braves are scheduled to play each of the first 14 days of the regular season. So to further protect their pitchers, Davidson and Strider will share the sixth spot in the rotation. They will be available to serve as a traditional starter, an opener, or a long reliever. This spot will first come up on Tuesday against the Nationals. Davidson might get the nod to ensure the Braves get a lefty-lefty matchup against Juan Soto in the first inning. But if he’s unavailable, the Braves could give the ball to Strider or possibly Collin McHugh. 

The rotation’s first five spots are filled by Fried, Morton, Anderson, Wright and Ynoa.

Bullpen (8): Kenley Jansen, Collin McHugh, Will Smith, Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter, Darren O’Day, Sean Newcomb, Tyler Thornburg
With Luke Jackson likely destined to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, the Braves had a spot for both Newcomb, who is out of options, and Thornburg, a suburban Atlanta native who has totaled just 49 2/3 innings since posting a 2.15 ERA in 67 appearances for the Brewers in 2016.

Catchers (3): Travis d’Arnaud, Manny Piña, William Contreras
Really, the only surprise here was the inclusion of Contreras. But Braves manager Brian Snitker provided reasoning on Sunday. Contreras will serve as the designated hitter against left-handed pitchers and he could see some time if necessary in the outfield. The young catcher will take grounders at third base to increase his versatility. But he’s being carried because of the value he can provide with his powerful right-handed swing.

Once Ronald Acuña Jr. returns from the injured list during the first week of May, Contreras could return to the Triple-A level and resume his development as a catcher.

Infielders (5): Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, Orlando Arcia
Olson replaces Freddie Freeman to complete an infield crew that includes four players who hit at least 25 homers last year. If Swanson can build on last year’s offensive success and Riley repeats his output, there’s a chance this group will have four players with a 30-homer season this year.

Outfielders (5): Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario, Marcell Ozuna, Guillermo Heredia, Alex Dickerson
Ozuna seems to be best utilized as the designated hitter, but he actually might be a better defensive player than Dickerson. The Opening Day outfield mix could go a couple different ways. The Braves could use Duvall in center, Ozuna in left and Rosario in right. But to create a better defensive trio, they could put Heredia in center, Duvall in left field and Rosario in right. When Acuña returns, the team’s outfield defense will become far less concerning.