3 Candidates for Braves No. 5 Starter Role After Felix Hernandez Opts Out of Season

Felix Hernandez
Atlanta Braves pitcher Felix Hernandez needs to be replaced in the starting rotation. | Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves are dealing with a scary situation regarding COVID-19. Four players have tested positive and one of those is star Freddie Freeman, who is reportedly feeling very sick. Then, news dropped that veteran pitcher Felix Hernandez was choosing to opt out of playing this year over fears related to the virus. It is hard to blame him.

Hernandez was in line to be the fifth starter, leaving a new void on the roster with only a few weeks before the start of the season. Yet the Braves have plenty of depth and three players in particular stand out as worthy replacements even on short notice.

3. Kyle Wright

Kyle Wright
Atlanta Braves pitcher Kyle Wright is a top pitcher prospect in the organization. | Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Kyle Wright is the No. 4 ranked prospect in the Braves organization by MLB.com and made four starts with the team in 2019. He is a 2017 first-round pick who quickly rose up the ranks and made his debut in 2018. The 6-4 right-hander had a rough 8.69 ERA in 19.2 innings last season, but no one is doubting his potential. He went 11-4 with a 4.17 ERA in Triple-A last season and deserves a shot to show off his high-90s velocity.

2. Bryse Wilson

Bryse Wilson
Atlanta Braves pitcher Bryse Wilson has made several MLB starts. | Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Bryse Wilson is two spots behind Wright as the No. 6 overall prospect in the Braves organization. The 2016 fourth-round pick is still only 22 years old and made his MLB debut in 2018. He then made four starts last season and finished with a 1-1 record in limited action. Wilson is still young so there is not necessarily a need to rush him into action. However, he has risen through the organization as a starter and the team should see if that role still fits or if he should head to the bullpen.

1. Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson
Atlanta Braves prospect Ian Anderson could compete for a rotation spot. | Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Ian Anderson is another highly-ranked prospect in the Braves system. He is No. 3 overall and rose up to Triple-A in 2019. Anderson just turned 22 in May and was the third-overall pick in the 2016 draft. The 6-3 right-hander has still not made his MLB debut, but is a part of the team's "taxi squad" for the shortened season. At least giving Anderson a start or two in 2020 gives the Braves a sense of what they have and avoids too long of a layoff for the young pitcher. He can reach the mid-90s and owns a career 2.91 ERA in the minors. That sounds deserving of a shot during this unique season.