Bryce Elder went 12-4 with a 3.81 ERA in the regular season, earning his first All-Star selection. While he has struggled in the second half, he has pitched more innings than ever in 2023. The Braves gave him some rest at the end and hopefully that’s just what the doctor ordered.
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The Bad: Bryce Elder’s 2nd Half Struggles
Elder boasted a 2.45 ERA heading into his July 9th start against the Rays. Since then, he has a 5.75 ERA and gave up 13 earned runs over his final 12.1 innings pitched. The Braves seemed to think fatigue had something to do with the downturn, although Elder was a top regression candidate at the break. His underlying metrics and lack of strikeout stuff seemed to cause a lot of concern.
The Good: Positives in Bryce Elder’s Numbers
Despite the recent worries, the Braves are sending a guy to the mound who had a better ERA than Spencer Strider for the season. He ranks in the 84th percentile in groundball rates and is one of the best at avoiding barrels.Embed from Getty Images
Elder has more than a small sample size to consider. Over 40 career regular season starts, he has a 3.66 ERA.
In two starts against the Phillies this year, he has a 3.38 ERA. That includes his masterful seven-innings of shutout ball on June 22nd.
The Good: The Braves Will Face Nola in Game 3
Aaron Nola had an off year. He allowed the sixth-most homers in all of baseball with a career high 1.49 homers allowed per nine. These are inauspicious numbers to bring into a game against one of the best home run hitting teams in the history of baseball.
Braves Have Solid Plan B in AJSS
Hopefully, Elder’s arm is refreshed and the bats eat Aaron Nola alive. Should Elder struggle early we could see AJ Smith-Shawver make his postseason debut in the early going.
AJSS impressed in his final outing against the Cubs with higher velocity. In the intrasquad game last Tuesday, he went five scoreless innings against the likes of Ronald Acuna Jr., Matt Olson, and Austin Riley.
I like the Braves chances tonight based on the matchups. The Braves look to go up 2-1 in Philadelphia in this best of five NLDS. First pitch is scheduled for 5:07 PM EST on TBS.
Apologies to anyone who read the article erroneously published this morning stating AJ Smith-Shawver would be the starter. We wanted it ready to go in case of an announcement by the Braves and it was mistakenly published. Talk about early morning excitement. We are very sorry for the mistake. Go Braves!