The Atlanta Braves are still battling the New York Mets for the NL East crown, but now they'll have to try to finish the fight without one of their best pitchers.
Braves fans woke up on Saturday morning to the bad news that NL Rookie of the Year favorite Spencer Strider was placed on the 15-day injured list with a right oblique strain.
Spencer Strider Injury Update
The move is retroactive to Sept. 21, meaning Strider won't be eligible to return until Oct. 6 at the earliest. That's one day after the regular season ends and one day before the postseason begins.
It was originally hoped that Strider would be able to avoid the IL after having his start skipped earlier this week, but oblique injuries can be tricky and he apparently needs more time to recover.
Atlanta Braves News
This news is unfortunate timing for the Braves, who are trying to make up a 2.5-game deficit in the NL East with just 11 games to play. They were counting on Strider to make several key starts during that stretch, but now they'll have to look elsewhere and replace him with an inferior pitcher.
Strider has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball this year, going 11-5 with a 2.67 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 131 2/3 innings. While he initially opened the season in the bullpen, he flourished after moving to the rotation at the end of May, although it's fair to wonder if the role change put too much stress on his body and ultimately caused this injury.
While they've already clinched a playoff spot, winning the division will be much more challenging for Atlanta without Strider. The Braves were 13-7 in his starts this year, including 8-2 in his last 10. Their odds of winning the NL East are now +500 on FanDuel Sportsbook's MLB odds.
Hopefully Strider can come back in time for the playoffs and help Atlanta win its second World Series in a row. The Braves currently have the fifth-best World Series odds on FanDuel at +950.