- The Atlanta Braves face a challenge as two of their top pitchers, Max Fried and Charlie Morton, are sidelined due to finger injuries just ahead of the 2023 playoffs.
- Max Fried is expected to return for the Division Series, while Charlie Morton may be available for the National League Championship Series if the Braves advance.
- The Braves currently hold home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, with the magic numbers of 3 to clinch the NLCS and 4 to clinch the World Series.
Finger Injuries Strike Braves’ Pitching Staff
The Atlanta Braves have been hit by a stroke of bad luck as two of their key pitchers have suffered finger injuries in consecutive days. This unexpected turn of events has raised concerns about the team’s pitching depth as they approach the 2023 playoffs.
The Injured Pitchers
- Max Fried, the 29-year-old left-handed ace, who previously missed three months due to a left forearm strain, is dealing with a finger injury.
- Charlie Morton, the veteran right-hander, pitched just one inning before being removed from the game due to a sprained finger.
— Bally Sports: Braves (@BravesOnBally) September 22, 2023
As the Braves, like the Dodgers, have secured a bye into the playoffs with the best records, Fried is expected to return for the Division Series starting on Oct. 7. Morton, on the other hand, may not be ready to come off the Injured List in time for the same series. Manager Brian Snitker believes Morton could potentially be available for the National League Championship Series if the team advances.
The Atlanta Braves are the first team in baseball to reach 💯 wins! 💪 pic.twitter.com/Tazbikl1EG
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 25, 2023
With 100 wins under their belt, the Braves currently hold home-field advantage for all playoff rounds. They have “magic numbers” of 3 to clinch the NLCS over the Los Angeles Dodgers and 4 to clinch the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles.
History Repeats Itself
This isn’t the first time the Braves have faced injuries to key starters just before the playoffs. Last year, Fried was weakened by a stomach virus ahead of the NLDS against Philadelphia. The Braves lost that series, while the Phillies advanced to the World Series.
While Fried and Spencer Strider are scheduled to make two starts each if the playoff series extends to five games, the identity of the third starter remains uncertain. It could be Bryce Elder or Kyle Wright, with Snitker hinting at a possible piggyback approach to maximize Wright’s effectiveness.
Charlie Morton’s Future
Charlie Morton, contemplating retirement as his contract nears expiration and his 40th birthday approaches, hopes for a memorable farewell to his career. If the Braves perform well in the postseason, they may exercise a one-year club option on his contract for 2024.
Braves manager Brian Snitker provides an update on Charlie Morton ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/hAIJVRIUER
— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) September 23, 2023
Atlanta’s postseason journey kicks off on Oct. 7 at Truist Park. A built-in off-day between the first two games allows them to utilize only three starters, with the third pitching Game 3 on the road. However, weather-related disruptions, such as a rainout, could alter pitching plans.
Potential Playoff Opponent
The Braves might face the Philadelphia Phillies, who are likely to secure the National League’s No. 4 seed as the top-ranked wild-card team. The Phillies would need to navigate a best-of-three Wild Card Series to advance to a matchup with the Braves.
In light of these injuries, Snitker remains optimistic, stating,
“It’s just those hurdles that you have to handle and adjustments you have to make, and put things together, and probably do some things that you wouldn’t normally do.”