The Atlanta Braves, who lost their left-handed ace and all-time wins leader at the same time, are looking for a new weapon to have the same effect as Spencer Strider, 25, did last year.
Atlanta will host the Washington 메이저놀이터 Nationals in a three-game series at Truiste Park in Atlanta, Georgia, from April 10-12.
Starting the first game of the three-game series will be right-hander AJ Smith-Schaber, 21, who made his major league debut on May 5 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Smith-Shaver was Atlanta’s seventh-round pick in the 2021 First-Year Player Draft and has posted a 1.09 ERA across three minor league levels this season.
Atlanta called Smith-Shaver up to the majors this month, and after one game in relief, he immediately took over the starting rotation.
Smith-Shaver throws an excellent four-seam fastball and slider, with an average changeup and breaking ball. With improved command, he could be a starter.
Most notable is his strikeouts per nine innings. He had 17.3 in Rookie ball in 2021, 13.5 in Single in 2022, and 12.3 in three minor leagues this season.
And in his major league debut on May 5 against Arizona, he went 2 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on no hits and striking out three.
At the time, Smith-Schaber threw a four-seam fastball that topped out at 97.1 mph and averaged 94.5 mph. The pitch is described as having cut fastball movement.
Atlanta may have pushed for Smith-Schaber’s transition to starting in hopes of another Strider. Strider hit the jackpot last year after making the transition from relief to starting.
It will be interesting to see if Smith-Schaber, who just turned 20, can revitalize the Atlanta starting rotation, which has been shaken up by the departures of Max Fried and Kyle Wright.