Fade The Dodgers And Back This Team To Win The 2024 World Series

This is the most complete team in the Major League Baseball

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It wasn’t much of a shock when the Braves recently decided to extend general manager Alex Anthopoulos through the 2031 campaign. The architect of the most impressive team-contract-friendly roster in Major League Baseball, Anthopoulos addressed Atlanta’s starting pitching rotation and depth, the team’s pain point from 2023 which was part of why they got bounced in the NLDS. 

As a result, they’re poised to win their seventh-straight AL East crown and get back to the World Series, where they won it all in 2021.

Last year, Braves starters finished with a 4.36 ERA which ranked 17th, essentially right in the middle of the pack. Injuries to Max Fried and Kyle Wright caused issues and created mid-season hurdles which resulted in 16 different starting pitchers being used. In order to continue to contend with teams like the Dodgers, who essentially have an All-Star lineup, some improvements needed to be made heading into 2024.

Not only that, but quality depth options have to be available for spot starts to ensure that guys at the top end of the rotation are healthy come playoff time. Veteran Chris Sale was acquired from the Red Sox this winter in what was a splashy move and he’s now included in what will likely be the best rotation in the entire sport. Here’s what that will most likely look like:

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Spencer Strider (+600 To Win NL Cy Young)

Max Fried (+1400 To Win NL Cy Young)

Charlie Morton (+6500 To Win NL Cy Young)

Bryce Elder (+25000 To Win NL Cy Young)

Chris Sale (+6000 To Win NL Cy Young)

Strider (20-5, 3.86 ERA) was the team’s clear ace in 2023. In 32 starts, he punched out an insane 281 hitters in 186.2 innings with a 1.09 WHIP. He’s the unquestioned alpha at the top of Atlanta’s rotation and is a double-digit punchout machine who can dominate any lineup. Fried (8-1, 2.55 ERA) was sensational after returning from his injury last season. Through 14 starts, he managed a 1.13 WHIP and has a 62-26 career record at the MLB level with a 3.03 ERA. That’s elite.

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Morton (14-12, 3.64 ERA) should be one of the best No. 3 starters in the Majors. Through 30 starts, he punched out 183 hitters in 163.1 innings and had a 1.43 WHIP in 2023. Elder (12-4, 3.81 ERA) had essentially two separate seasons in 2023. His incredible first half led to an NL All-Star appearance. However, he fell off a bit after the break and struggled down the stretch. Making sure that he gets some extra rest here and there will be a priority for Atlanta’s coaching staff, just like it will be for Sale (6-5, 4.30 ERA), who showed glimpses of his old self in Boston last season, punching out 125 hitters in 102.2 innings with a 1.13 ERA. If he maintains his health (which is a big if), Sale could help vault this already-dominant pitching staff into a historically-great category.

Per FanGraphs, that starting rotation is projected to be worth 16.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). No other starting rotation has a better projection (the Phillies and Dodgers rank behind them). 

Here are depth options who should also spend time as long relievers or in Triple-A waiting to be called up as well:

Reynaldo Lopez

AJ Smith-Shawver

Huascar Ynoa

Dylan Dodd

Darius Vines

Allan Winans

Hurston Waldrep

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In addition to these names, Ian Anderson (Tommy John recovery) is expected to start rehabbing in the summer, so he could make an appearance down the stretch if all goes well and he’s needed.

For as much love as Atlanta’s lineup gets, and rightfully so, with Ronald Acuna, Matt Olson, Ozzie Albies, Sean Murphy, Austin Riley, Michael Harris II and more featured, Atlanta’s pitching staff should be recognized as the best in the game heading into 2024 and Anthopoulos should get a lot of credit for building it. 

Heading towards Spring Training, here are the futures I’m interested in backing for the Braves (with the best available odds):

Braves To Win Over 100.5 Regular Season Games (-115, FanDuel)

Braves To Win NL Pennant (+375, BetMGM)

Braves To Win World Series (+700, BetMGM)

Spencer Strider To Win NL Cy Young (+650, Caesars)

Spencer Strider Most Regular Season Strikeouts (+190, Caesars)

Max Fried To Win NL Cy Young (+1400, FanDuel)

Stay tuned for more MLB futures content as the 2024 campaign approaches!