By KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – Just when it felt like things were starting to come together for a Braves rotation that’s been a revolving door for the last nine weeks, there was more bad news on Monday just before first pitch of the series opener with Miami. Cole Hamels, who missed the majority of the season with left triceps tendinitis, shut down for the rest of the year with left shoulder fatigue. For the Atlanta starting staff, it comes at the worst possible time. With just six games left in the regular season and the Braves on the brink of their third consecutive division title, the scramble was one once again to figure out who will start tonight’s action against the Fish. We now know Bryse Wilson will start tonight as the Braves have a chance to finish off the NL East at Truist Park.
For Hamels, his tenure in a Brave uniform lasted just ten outs last week in Baltimore. He was on track to get the start tonight and likely line up as the Braves number two or three starter come the playoffs next week. However, now the club will have to turn in a different direction. It now appears as though it will be some combination of Max Fried, Ian Anderson and either Kyle Wright or Huascar Ynoa for the first round series starting next Wednesday. Opponent could play a part in the decision, but these days, the options are extremely limited. Given the fact we haven’t seen or heard much about Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb, they’re likely out of the picture. And that tells you a lot about their standing in the organization if they aren’t getting a shot even with all that’s gone awry for the pitching staff.
The fact that the Braves enter tonight’s game with the Marlins ten games over .500 on the season speaks volumes to how good the offense and bullpen have been. To that point, the Braves improved to a perfect 25-0 when carrying a lead beyond the sixth inning this season. And they’ll be counted on even more moving forward with a very young, inexperienced rotation. Max Fried is the wily veteran of the staff and he has a grand total of 66 Big League appearances (49 starts) over the course of his career. All that said, there’s no time for the guys to feel sorry for themselves. The division is there for the taking and they continue in their quest to put to bed two decades of postseason frustration. Buckle up and enjoy the ride, folks!
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.