A look at the state of the Braves' rotation heading into the NLDS
Strider has been in the Cy Young conversation all season long. Though he boasts a 3.86 ERA, which doesn't exude elite success, he pitched to a 2.85 FIP, which is second-best in baseball. He led the league with 281 strikeouts and wins with 20. He has been the Braves' most consistent pitcher all year and downright scary to face. Against the Phillies this year, in four games over 26 innings, he has a 2.42 ERA and has won each game. Strider comes into this series well-rested and fully healthy.
Unfortunately, Fried has not been particularly healthy all year. He made just 14 starts this year, and his last start before the NLDS was on Sept. 21. He has recently been bothered by a blister on his finger that could affect his pitching. During his 14 starts in the regular season, he was lights out, pitching to a 2.55 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 3.14 FIP. If he had been able to stay healthy and hold these numbers, we’d be talking about the top two Braves pitchers being the front runners for the Cy Young.
On Wednesday, the Braves held a simulated game where Fried pitched the first inning without a bandage and the next four innings with a band-aid on his blister. It's noteworthy that in a real game setting, he will not be able to use the bandage. Braves Manager Brian Snitker said following the simulated game that Fried "felt good" and should be ready for the NLDS.
The 24-year-old, in his first full major league season, did not disappoint. Like many Braves rookies before him, he stepped right into his role and performed above expectations. In 31 starts, Elder had a 3.81 ERA and a WHIP of 1.27. His FIP was on the higher end sitting at 4.42. Like most rookies, he performed better at home, registering a 3.61 ERA, than he did away from Truist Park where he had a 4.05 ERA.
Though it has not been announced officially, the Braves will likely be starting Strider in Game 1, followed by Fried in Game 2 at home and then Elder in Game 3 in Philadelphia. If necessary, they will turn to Strider in Game 4 at Citizens Bank Park, where he was tagged for five runs in just 2 1/3 innings. If Fried responds well with his blister, he'll get the call for Game 5 in Atlanta.
NEXT: Checking in on the Phillies’ starters.