With exactly three weeks until Opening Day, the battle for fifth spot in the Atlanta rotation is still up for grabs. Coming into camp, I had thought it was Mike Soroka’s job to lose. And with shoulder soreness shutting him down a couple weeks ago, obviously we won’t see Soroka in that spot to start the regular season. Luiz Gohara, another candidate has also dealt with shoulder issues of his own but is on the mend, throwing a live BP session yesterday. Gohara told me that barring any setbacks, he could be in a game as early as this weekend.
So, for now, it appears as though the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation is down to four: Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, Bryse Wilson and Max Fried. If I had pinpoint the favorites, I’d say it’s down to Wright and Toussaint, both have been impressive in the last two days. But again, as we know, this will likely come down to the final days of camp until we have an idea who will earn that spot. And the message to those who don’t? “Stay ready” Brian Snitker said last week. The Braves used 33 different pitchers in 2018 and that number will likely stay about the same this season. So, for those who don’t make the cut, there’s a chance they see time in the Majors before the first month of the season ends. And another concept that worked for the Braves a year ago was mixing in spot starters to give guys an extra day of rest in between their outings. With so many players on the roster with Minor League options, that will likely be the approach used again this season.
The team has off today and we’ll see Kevin Gausman make his 2019 debut tomorrow night. Gausman factors to likely be the club’s number three starter going into the new year but has dealt with some shouler soreness of his own over the last week and a half. But, following a side session earlier this week, Gausman feels good and is ready to turn it loose on Friday night against the Phillies. Look for Gausman to continue working strictly out of the stretch as he saw some positive results following the trade to Atlanta last season where he completely ditched the windup.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet