The Atlanta Braves are back at it as they continue their opening four-game series agains the Cincinnati Reds. Charlie Morton will make his 2022 regular season debut for the Braves Friday night. That wasn’t something that was guaranteed after suffered a fractured fibula when he was struck by a line drive in Game 1 of the World Series. However, Morton arrived at camp in good shape and is ready to go.
“We didn’t know where he was going to be coming into spring training,” Snitker said of Morton. “We saw some videos of some of his workouts. He’s by far past what we thought when he came. He’s probably one of the more advanced guys coming into camp after the lockout. So, just credit to him and the work he did and his rehab and everything. He’s good to go.”
Morton was a big game pitcher for the Braves in 2021 and along with Max Fried, formed a solid 1-2 punch down the stretch. Snitker talked about how Morton’s experience can have a calming influence on the rest of the pitching staff.
“I’m so glad he signed back. I know we all were,” Snitker said. “He’s one of those guys that brings instant credibility and just everything I mean, just kind of a calming influence to the other guys. No situation is ever going to be too big for him. He’s been on every stage of this game. It’s just good to have a guy that is that consistent and obviously doing things right at his age to be still pitching like he is.
Spencer Strider impresses in his debut
Thursday’s Opening Day loss to the Reds was pretty much a forgettable performance. One of the bright spots though was Spencer Strider who looked electric while striking out five batters over two perfect innings. Strider would seem like a good fit for a bullpen that lost Luke Jackson to injury. He is also stretched out and could figure into the rotation mix at some point. Whatever the role, he turned heads with his performance Thursday night.
“It’s really good because you don’t know what to expect for a kid like that with a big arm,” Snitker said about Strider. “We saw a brief glance last year and I thought that was a perfect situation to bring him into last night. With Luke going down, that’s a big hole in the bullpen. Luke took down some huge innings for us last year. Spencer has got the arm to be that guy.
Rotation plan for next week
Kyle Wright is scheduled to follow Morton Saturday night with Ian Anderson set to go in the series finale against the Reds Sunday. Huascar Ynoa is scheduled to start Monday’s series opener against the Nationals. Snitker said that the team is still planning to use a sixth starter, but he wasn’t ready to announce who would be taking that spot.
“Right now we’re planning on slotting somebody in,” Snitker said. “It’s one of those wait and see how we get there.”
Depending on what happens this weekend, there is a chance that they elect to start Max Fried on regular rest Tuesday. However, Snitker said that they wanted to try and give their starters extra rest, particularly early on.
Tucker Davidson would appear to be the most likely option to start Tuesday’s game if he isn’t needed over the weekend. The Braves could also elect to go with an opener with someone like Strider following.
With rookie left-hander Reiver Sanmartin on the mound Friday night, the Braves shook up their lineup with Ozzie Albies moving up to the leadoff spot and Orlando Arcia taking over as the DH.
“I’m just going to try and get as many guys involved as we can until we get Ronnie back,” Snitker said of the decision to go with Arcia.
“Arcia’s been around. Arcia’s a big leaguer,” Snitker added. “He’s had big moments when he was in Milwaukee and big playoff hits. It’s hard to keep everybody, especially with the DH, tuned up. I don’t know that much about this guy for as far as the matchup goes. We are just getting him in there and see. We don’t really have that one dominating guy right now that you could look at as a DH.”
Arcia appeared in 36 games with the Brewers and Braves in 2021 and hit just .198/.258/.309 in 89 plate appearances. He has a 70 wRC+ for his career in over 1,900 at-bats at the major league level. He has a .244/.313/.356 line with a 77 wRC+ in his career against left-handed pitching.