Bryce Elder made his third start of the season Sunday for the Atlanta Braves and for the most part, walked the tightrope despite allowing a high number of baserunners. Elder surrendered just five hits and two runs but walked a career-high six batters in just 4 2/3 innings. He did a good of limiting the damage, but in his own words, he can’t walk that many people and expect to be successful.
“I thought I made some good pitches when I needed to but at the end of the day it is the same conversation we had last week. You can’t walk that many people and expect to have that much success,” Elder said after the game. “I think going forward attack more and get ahead and then if I want to throw some pitches close just out of the zone.”
Elder didn’t walk a batter in his debut where he allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Nationals. All three of those runs came on a pair of homers in his final inning. Since that start, he has issued 11 walks in just nine innings to go along with seven strikeouts. He has allowed just four runs in those two starts combined, so he has done a good job managing the situation even if it isn’t a recipe for success. The last Braves pitcher to allow 11 walks in two starts was Tommy Hanson in 2012.
“It seems like he is always pitching out of trouble with a lot of guys on. He never gives in, I will give him credit for that,” Brian Snitker answered when asked about Elder’s start after the game. “I thought his stuff coming out of the gate looked really good. He probably needs to be a little more efficient, but there is a lot of good qualities there. He’s a young guy and is just figuring this thing out. What I really like about him is that he doesn’t let the roof cave in on him. He keeps the thing manageable and never stops pitching.”
Elder averaged 3.97 walks per nine in 25 games between High A and Triple A last season. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, so living on the edges is necessary for him to be successful. Again, he did a good job of managing as the Marlins were just 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position against him in Sunday’s game.
“I think a little bit with everything. Similar to last week I think. I threw a lot of balls, but I think I commanded the ball well,” Elder said. “It was quality misses, but it was just a little bit off here a little bit out there. So you gotta be better.”
“I think he’s one of those guys. He’s trying to hit his spots and doesn’t give in,” Snitker said. I would think that’s something that you can narrow in as you go. It’s going to be a learning process for him every time he goes out there, it’s gonna be something different that he’s experienced. It’s a good thing to look at and the intangible is the kid never stops pitching and he doesn’t give in and he keeps the game manageable.”
Despite his recent performance, there doesn’t seem to be any immediate danger of him losing his rotation spot. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the Braves will be forced to drop a pair of pitchers on May 2 when major league rosters shrink from 28 to 26 players with a limit of 13 pitchers.
Atlanta has three more games against the Chicago Cubs on this current homestand before they will head out on the road for three games in Texas and then four, including a doubleheader, in New York against the Mets.