Atlanta Braves: Spencer Strider’s injury a death blow to NL East hopes?

Aug 26, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (65) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 26, 2022; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider (65) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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With the news that Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Spencer Strider is heading to the 15-day injured list with a strained left oblique muscle, Atlanta’s chances for winning the National League East and avoiding the Wild Card round may have taken a massive blow.

Spencer Strider’s injury puts the Atlanta Braves at an even bigger disadvantage as the postseason draws near

Strider, the 23-year-old right-hander who is one of two strong candidates for National League Rookie of the Year on the Atlanta Braves roster, along with outfielder Michael Harris II, was placed on the injured list on Saturday morning, with the move backdated to September 21. That is just three days after Strider moved to 11-5 on the campaign by striking out 10 Philadelphia Phillies as Atlanta posted a 5-2 victory. Strider, however, was removed from the game after six innings after leaving with what was termed as a tender left oblique.

Before the announcement of the IL stint, there was hope that Strider could be available to pitch in a potentially postseason-shifting series against the New York Mets in Atlanta from September 30-October 1. However, now it’s a question of if Strider will return for the postseason and, if so, when.

With the Braves entering Saturday’s play 2.5 games behind the Mets in the NL East standings, Strider’s injury certainly won’t help the Braves as they have just 11 games left to hop the Mets in the division and avoid having to play in the best-of-3 Wild Card round. Despite three of those games coming against New York at home, the Braves are given just a 13.3 percent chance to win the division, according to FanGraphs.

Bryce Elder and Alan Rangel are expected to fill the void for the Braves until Strider’s return. The right-handed Elder filled in for Strider during his last scheduled start on September 21, holding the Washington Nationals to four hits and one earned run over 5.2 innings of work. In two starts covering 11.2 innings this month, the 23-year-old Elder, another rookie, has allowed six hits and one earned run on his way to a 0.77 ERA and 2.34 FIP while opponents have hit just .150 against him.

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Strider’s injury puts another big obstacle in front of the Atlanta Braves as they try to win the division, and puts a big question mark on the postseason as the Braves can only hope there is no setback for Strider so he can return early in the playoffs as Atlanta defends its World Series title.