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Braves Notes: Austin Riley sick, pitching plan against Pirates

Austin Riley will miss his first game of the 2023 season.

St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves will wrap up a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday night and will do so without Austin Riley who is out of the lineup for the first time this season. Riley is sick according to manager Brian Snitker and the Braves are hoping that it is just a 24-hour issue.

“No, he’s sick. He’s got that 24-hour bug,” Snitker said of Riley. “He’s not even here. We’ll just have to wait and see what he feels like tomorrow.”

Nicky Lopez will make his first start at third base since coming to Atlanta. Lopez started at shortstop Tuesday in place of Orlando Arcia. Snitker again praised the acquisition of Lopez and the defensive flexibility that he provides.

“I feel good with him anywhere on the infield,” Snitker said of Lopez. “I could put him in center field and probably feel good about him. He’s a good little defensive player, that’s why we got him.”

Snitker added that the regulars will continue to play for the foreseeable future, but that he hoped to be able to get everyone some rest between now and the end of the season. Atlanta’s magic number to clinch the NL East is 11.

Pitching plan for the weekend is TBA

Rest is also the theme of the day with the pitching staff as well. The Braves announced Thursday that Bryce Elder will start Friday’s game against the Pirates. Saturday and Sunday are both listed as TBA. Snitker said they are still working through their options for the weekend, but said that they want to give guys extra days whenever they have the opportunity.

Charlie Morton would have been on regular rest for Saturday’s game. Snitker also said that the plan currently is for Spencer Strider to start one of the games in Monday’s doubleheader.

The options for this weekend appear to be:

Allan Winans pitched Tuesday at Gwinnett and is lined up to start Sunday on regular rest.

Dylan Dodd last pitched at Gwinnett on August 30 and would be an option for Saturday or Sunday as would Jared Shuster, who last pitched on September 2.

Darius Vines pitched two innings of relief in Wednesday’s game and probably would be available out of the bullpen Sunday or could start one of the games Monday.

My guess is that it will be Strider and Charlie Morton in Monday’s doubleheader. The Braves have another off day next Thursday and could reset the rotation again at that point.

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