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Top Braves News

  • Braves' Tyler Matzek: Set for spring debut

    Matzek (elbow) is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut Monday against the Orioles, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports.

    Matzek is unlikely to work more than an inning or two in what will not only be his first outing of spring training, but also his first since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2022. Though Matzek reported to spring training at full health, Atlanta could still opt to place him on the injured list to begin the season if the left-hander struggles to regain his pre-surgery velocity and command during camp. Atlanta will likely let Matzek's performance in the Grapefruit League slate guide whether or not he cracks the Opening Day roster.

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  • Braves' Michael Harris: Homers to kick off spring

    Harris went 2-for-3 with a double, a solo home run and a second run scored in Saturday's Grapefruit League game against the Rays.

    The 22-year-old center fielder went yard to lead off the game on the first pitch he saw from minor-leaguer Nathan Wiles. Harris will likely be hitting down toward the bottom of a stacked Atlanta lineup when the regular season begins, but he still scored 76 runs over 138 games in 2023 while mainly batting ninth, so that assignment is only a yellow flag for his RBI totals from a fantasy perspective. Harris still offers 20-20 upside, and perhaps even more if he takes a step forward with his production in his third MLB campaign.

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  • Braves' Spencer Strider: Already dominating this spring

    Strider struck out four batters over two scoreless innings in his first Grapefruit League action of the spring Saturday against the Rays.

    The right-hander allowed one hit and and one walk, and per David O'Brien of The Athletic, he was already hitting 98-99 mph with his fastball even though it isn't even March yet. Strider also incorporated the curveball he's been working on, throwing three of them and liking the results. "I think every time [the curve] was effective," Strider said after the start. "And it's a pitch that, similarly to the changeup, is an effective pitch any time I throw it, regardless of what the outcome is. Because my strengths are my fastball and my slider. So everything I'm doing is trying to help those pitches. And so that's how today was very educational, starting to see the sequencing and the feedback from hitters in a competitive environment." Strider threw his fastball and slider almost 93 percent of the time in 2023, and while that likely isn't going to change significantly this season, having another pitch he trusts in his repertoire could allow the 25-year-old ace to become the first pitcher to record 300 strikeouts in a season since Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander both reached that mark in 2019.

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  • Braves' Reynaldo Lopez: Could have edge for rotation spot

    Lopez might be the early favorite to open the season as Atlanta's No. 5 starter, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports.

    Lopez holds a career 4.73 ERA and 19.8 percent strikeout rate as a starter but a 3.01 ERA and 26.6 percent strikeout rate as a reliever, and all but one of his appearances over the last two seasons have come out of the bullpen. However, Atlanta believes they might be able to coax more out of Lopez as a starter, and at the very least it would be easier to stretch him out now before moving him to the bullpen later rather than vice versa. Lopez's primary competition for the fifth spot in the rotation is Bryce Elder, with AJ Smith-Shawver, Darius Vines, Allan Winans and Dylan Dodd also options.

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  • Braves' Ian Anderson: Aiming for midsummer return

    Anderson (elbow) told reporters Tuesday that he's hoping to be ready to return by the middle of the summer, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports.

    It's a vague timetable, which is not unexpected with Anderson about 10 months removed from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander also revealed that he's altered his delivery a bit since resuming a throwing program, dropping his arm angle so he's not as over-the-top as he used to be. Anderson showed initial promise but struggled in 2022 before missing nearly all of 2023, so Atlanta won't necessarily be counting on him to contribute in 2024.

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  • Braves' Spencer Strider: Arsenal could expand

    Strider unveiled a curveball during a live batting practice session against Matt Olson on Monday, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports.

    After the BP session, Strider was reluctant to label his new toy as a true curveball, instead suggesting it was just a modified version of his slider. "The terminology, you know, on all this stuff - sweeper, slider, cutter, curve, slurve, who knows what anything does? I think it's just manipulating the ball a little more, seeing what kind of different shapes I can get." The right-hander has become one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball while relying on two pitches, a fastball that in 2023 had an average velocity of 97.2 mph (93rd percentile) and a slider that generated a 55.3 percent whiff rate. Strider did sprinkle in a changeup once in a while last year (7.3 percent), but if he can add another breaking pitch as well, at-bats against him could become even more frustrating.

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  • Braves' Tyler Matzek: Might open season on IL

    Matzek (elbow) feels healthy to begin the spring and is aiming to be ready for Opening Day, but an IL stint to begin the season hasn't been ruled out, Justin Toscano of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

    Atlanta has the bullpen depth to take things slowly with Matzek as he completes his recovery from Tommy John surgery, so he might end up needing a brief IL stint to allow him to finish ramping up. The 33-year-old southpaw didn't pitch at all in 2023, and his numbers declined in 2022 prior to undergoing surgery that October, but the team is hoping Matzek can return to the form that saw him post a 2.64 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 120:47 K:BB over 92 innings in 2020-21.

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  • Braves' Chris Sale: Coming off healthy offseason

    Sale indicated Saturday that he'd been completely healthy this offseason for the first time since 2018, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports.

    The 34-year-old left-hander has dealt with a litany of injuries in the years since, and his typical winter during that time involved rehabbing from his latest issue rather than focusing on the upcoming campaign. A clean start to 2024 doesn't guarantee that Sale will be able to take 30-plus turns in the rotation for Atlanta, of course, but it does offer some reason for optimism that he'll top the 102.2 innings he threw for Boston last year. Sale still flashes premium stuff, posting a 29.4 percent strikeout rate last season with a 6.8 percent walk rate, and his 33.6 percent chase rate was in the 92nd percentile. If he can handle a bigger workload, he could produce 200 strikeouts for the first time since 2019.

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  • Braves' Huascar Ynoa: Throws bullpen session

    Ynoa (elbow) threw a bullpen session Wednesday, Justin Toscano of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

    Ynoa underwent Tommy John surgery near the end of the 2022 season, causing him to miss the entire 2023 campaign. Although manager Brian Snitker said Ynoa looked "great" during his first throwing session of the spring, the 25-year-old's availability for the beginning of Grapefruit League play remains unknown.

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  • Braves' Dylan Lee: Not guaranteed roster spot

    Lee (shoulder) will need to pitch well this spring to ensure he breaks camp on the big-league roster, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports.

    The 29-year-old southpaw dazzled in 2022 with a 2.13 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 59:10 K:BB through 50.2 innings, but shoulder trouble rendered him far less effective last season and he underwent surgery in October. Lee's healthy to begin the spring, but he faces plenty of competition for a spot in the bullpen after Atlanta added Aaron Bummer, Reynaldo Lopez, Ken Giles and other relief arms this offseason. As Lee still has minor-league options remaining, he could find himself on the outside looking in when camp breaks if he doesn't force the issue with his performance.

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  • Braves' Reynaldo Lopez: Will get stretched out this spring

    Lopez will be stretched out as a starter to begin spring training, but his ultimate role remains uncertain, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports.

    The flamethrowing right-hander hasn't been able to find much sustained success during his career, but Lopez did post a combined 3.02 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 146:45 K:BB over 131.1 innings over the last two seasons while getting the start in only one of his 129 appearances, so he seems better suited to bullpen work. On the other hand, he converted only six of 17 save chances during that time, suggesting he's a risky option in high-leverage spots. Nonetheless, an Atlanta squad that had its rotation depth tested in 2023 will keep its options open with the 30-year-old early in the spring. However he gets deployed, Lopez figures to have a significant role after signing a three-year, $26 million contract with the AL East champs in November.

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  • Braves' Jarred Kelenic: In line for everyday at-bats

    Atlanta president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said Thursday that the team is leaning toward playing Kelenic every day in left field rather than platooning him, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports.

    This isn't terribly surprising to hear since Atlanta doesn't have an obvious platoon partner for Kelenic right now, but it's nonetheless encouraging for his fantasy prospects. The 24-year-old actually had a better OPS against lefties (.774) than he did versus righties (.738) in 2023, although in his career he has just a .566 OPS and 29.9 percent strikeout rate against southpaws. Atlanta feels that giving Kelenic regular work versus lefties will be the best way for him to improve.

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Injuries

Player Injury
I. Anderson SP Ian Anderson SP Elbow
P. Murfee RP Penn Murfee RP Elbow
J. Stephens RP Jackson Stephens RP Elbow
A. Perdomo RP Angel Perdomo RP Elbow

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