Skip to main content

Braves Option 5th Starter Candidate to Triple-A Gwinnett

The Atlanta Braves have seemingly decided on a 5th starter with over a week to go in spring training

The Atlanta Braves don't want a lot of questions in camp this year. 

This isn't a commentary on the team's willingness to talk to the media - they've been nothing but accessible and open in that regard. Rather, it's a reflection of the relatively few questions about roster spots entering camp, and the fact they've already made a decision on one of those biggest position battles with over a week to go in spring.

The Braves optioned Bryce Elder to AAA Gwinnett this morning, giving the 5th starter's job to Reynaldo López

It's not the last you'll see of Elder; an All-Star in 2023, Elder will presumably get the 2nd consecutive Opening Day start for Gwinnett, but is expected to be used heavily in Atlanta this season. With both oft-injured Chris Sale and López, a converted reliever, in the rotation, there's presumably going to be workload questions for the duo and Elder will make plenty of starts for the Braves over the summer. 

But López has answered many of the questions that were lingering about his transition to starting after multiple seasons as a reliever. His velocity, while not sitting in the high-90s as it was when he was coming out of the pen, has trended up into the mid-90s in his most recent outings. 

For the spring, he's 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA in five outings (three starts), striking out thirteen and walking six in his 16.2 innings. López has allowed four homers in Grapefruit League action, all solo shots, and they represent all the earned runs he's given up this March. 

But despite the homers, López has fared better than Elder in spring. The righty sinkerballer Elder is 2-1 with an 8.25 ERA in his four starts, striking out thirteen in his twelve innings but allowing eleven runs. More worryingly, Elder's not been victimized by longballs - he's allowed only one homer in spring-  but rather just consistently allowed batters to reach base, walking six and allowing fifteen hits, good for a 1.75 WHIP.  

Ynoa debuts and is optioned

Also being optioned to Gwinnett was Huascar Ynoa, who is returning from 2022 Tommy John surgery. He made his first appearance of spring on Saturday, pitching a single inning and flashing mid-90s velocity. 

He'll continue working in Gwinnett and can seemingly enter either the bullpen or rotation mix, depending on Atlanta's need at the major league level.