World Series Game 4 Notebook: Snitker, Braves Want To Re-Emphasize Starting Pitching

Image credit: Brian Snitker and Dylan Lee (Getty Images)

ATLANTA—In the aftermath of his decision to pull Ian Anderson after five no-hit innings in Game 3 of the World Series, Braves manager Brian Snitker spent some time in the hours before Game 4 discussing how starting pitchers are used in the modern game.

In response to a question about the increased use of openers, Snitker expanded on the changes he has seen in his more than 40 years as a coach and manager in the minors and majors, and what it’s meant for how teams use their starters.

“I’m a big fan of starting pitching, but in this age where some guys, they break, it’s just hard to keep in your organization enough (of a) stable of starting pitching that you can use,” Snitker said. “Sometimes they break down in the minor leagues and you get up here, there’s nowhere to go anymore for whatever reason. They play so much baseball now, I think at a young age. And I think that’s part of why, to me, they break. They never rest.

“These guys are going to barns and taking pitching lessons in the winter. Guys used to play basketball and football and pitch in the spring and whatever sport was in season was their favorite one. I think guys are majoring in pitching at a really young age, and I think that may be a result of some of what we’re seeing now as we try and piece all this together.”

The Braves have generally been one of the less restrictive organizations when it comes to starting pitching workloads in the minor leagues. Lefthander Max Fried pitched 106 innings at Low-A Rome in 2016 in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. Righthander Mike Soroka, currently on the injured list with a torn Achilles, pitched 143 innings at Low-A Rome in his first full season and 153.2 innings at Double-A Mississippi the following year. Righthander Ian Anderson pitched 119.1 innings as a 20-year-old in 2018 and followed with 135.2 across Double-A and Triple-A the next year. Righthander Kyle Wright threw 138 innings in his first year after the Braves made him the fifth overall pick out of Vanderbilt.

Relatedly, the Braves have been one the most successful organizations at developing young pitching in recent years, particularly high school pitching. Even so, despite the successful ascents of Soroka, Fried, Anderson and other prep products to the majors, the Braves still find themselves short of starting pitchers in the World Series. Even before Charlie Morton suffered broken ankle on a comebacker in Game 1, the Braves were planning to throw at least one bullpen game in the World Series. Now in light of Morton’s injury, they are throwing two.

“I’m still a big proponent in developing starting pitching,” Snitker said. “I think you develop starting pitching in your organization if you’re going to be solid. Part of me thinks we need to get back to that.”

It is notable that the Braves continued to let their starters log innings in the minors in a season many teams were cautious about pitcher workloads following the canceled 2020 season. The two pitchers who threw the most innings in the minors this season were both Braves—prospect Bryce Elder led the minors with 137.2 innings pitched and Wright finished second with 130 innings. High-A righthanders Darius Vines (111) and Tanner Gordon (108.1), Double-A righthander Alan Rangel (104.2) and Triple-A righthander Jose Rodriguez (100.2) also crossed the 100-inning mark. Low-A righthander Joey Estes finished just shy with 99 innings in his first full season.

“I think they amped our guys up as the season went,” Snitker said. “Looking at game reports, we did a really good job of starting to stretch kids out, even at the lower levels.

“And I think it takes a while to do that, which is why I think over the years we were so successful at doing that. That was a big emphasis in our organization years and years ago when I was managing in the minor leagues. The emphasis was starting pitching. We wanted guys to start and develop their pitchers.



Anyone questioning the value of the draft needs only to look at the Braves and Astros rosters to see how critical it can be.

A total of 16 first-round picks are on World Series rosters, meaning more than 30% of all players in the World Series were first-round picks.

That includes nine players taken in the top 10. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (2012) and Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson (2015) were both No. 1 overall picks, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman (2015) was a second overall pick, Braves righthander Ian Anderson (2016) was a No. 3 pick, Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker (2015) and Braves righthander Kyle Wright (2017) were No. 5 picks, Astros righthander Zack Greinke (2002) was taken sixth overall, Braves lefthander Max Fried was a seventh overall pick (2012) and Astros catcher Jason Castro (2008) was a 10th overall pick. Braves lefthander Tyler Matzek just missed the group—he was selected 11th overall in 2009.

Another four players were drafted in the second round, including Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. With that, just under two-fifths of all the players in the World Series were drafted in the top two rounds.


Braves lefthander Dylan Lee’s start as an opener was his first start since July 23, 2017 with Low-A Greensboro in the Marlins organization. Lee pitched five innings and gave up three runs for the Grasshoppers against Rockies affiliate Asheville and took a no-decision….Astros second baseman Jose Altuve’s solo home run in the fourth inning was the 23rd of his postseason career. That moved him all alone into second place on the all-time postseason home run list, snapping a tie with Yankees great Bernie Williams. Manny Ramirez holds the record for most postseason home runs with 29….Castro was removed from the Astros roster before the game due to Covid-19 protocols. Catcher Garrett Stubbs was added to replace Castro.

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