Next man up: With Charlie Morton out, the Braves turn to a rookie pitcher

HOUSTON — As the emotional high of winning game one of the World Series gets refocused on game two, the Atlanta Braves have some thinking to do about their pitching staff.

The question: How do you replace Charlie Morton?

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For those of you who missed it, Morton left Game 1 in the third inning and was later diagnosed with a fractured fibula. It’s believed that injury happened in the second inning after he was hit by a Yuli Gurriel line drive.

Somehow, Morton managed to get three more hitters out before giving in to the pain. Needless to say, he’s out for the series.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said the rest of his pitching staff will respond in Morton’s absence.

“I just told Alex, I said, don’t worry, these guys are going to keep going. They’re going to keep fighting. They’re going to keep battling. We’ve been through this many times this year, losing key components to our club. I mean, really key components,” Snitker said.

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The Braves have Max Fried ready to go in Game 2 and Ian Anderson in Game 3, but the question becomes, “Who’s next?”

The short version is that the team has basically three options:

  • Bullpen game
  • Kyle Wright or Drew Smyly
  • Bring up a starter not currently on the roster (Kyle Muller/Touki Toussaint/Tucker Davidson)

The assumption is that Fried and Anderson can start a second game if needed. That’s not a question or an issue.

The Braves already were going to have at least one “bullpen” game in the series. Game 4 would likely have featured the same set up the team used in the championship series. Jesse Chavez starts with Smyly coming behind him to eat some innings.

The bullpen has been carrying a huge burden throughout the playoffs.

A.J. Minter came in and threw three great innings with Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith there to finish things up in Game 1. But how much more can they be pushed?

The Braves put Kyle Wright on the World Series roster ideally to pitch in long relief as needed. Wright did not fare well in two starts early this season, but was very good at AAA Gwinnett.

He could be a potential starter option now. Wright threw six innings of shutout baseball in the 2020 NLDS vs. the Marlins, but got shelled in the championship series vs. the Dodgers that year.

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Ultimately, the Braves have decided to call up Davidson to replace Morton on the World Series roster.

Davidson pitched in four games for Atlanta this summer with some success. He didn’t earn a win or loss, but had a solid 3.60 ERA in those four games.

He missed most of the summer after an inflamed forearm but returned to pitch the last couple of weeks this season in the minor leagues.

Davidson’s last appearance was a three inning appearance in Gwinnett vs. Jacksonville. In that game he gave up three hits, a run and a walk with five strikeouts on 40 pitches.

At this time, the Braves don’t have to rush a decision on what to do with Davidson. He could be a straight up replacement for Morton and take his second series start if needed. Or he could be a multi-inning, bridge relief pitcher should Atlanta decide to throw a bullpen game.

Either way, they have some solid options.

And that’s OK.