The Braves announced today that Bryce Elder has been optioned to minor-league camp, ending the competition for the final position in the rotation. Reynaldo Lopez will now complete a group of really promising arms.
Elder made every effort to turn the fight into a contest, but Lopez was always in the driver’s seat since he still had options. It never mattered if the Braves started him or relieved him; his status on the roster was guaranteed.

Braves make decision on their fifth starter | Yardbarker

The Braves are able to roster another reliever by using Elder as a starter, which they might not have been able to do if they had started the season with Elder in the rotation. I do think Lopez will find himself back in the pen at some point. Although he has always performed well there, it is much simpler to stretch him out at the start of the season and then put him back in his more conventional relief role as the season progresses. In the middle of the season, it is almost hard to do it the other way around.

Elder, AJ Smith-Shawver, and Hurston Waldrep will all probably start games at some time this season. Additionally, Ian Anderson might return to the mix following his recuperation from the Tommy John procedure he had last year. The Braves staff has excellent depth, which will be crucial to them winning a sixth consecutive division championship.

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