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Bryce Elder Needs to Not Fear the Beard

Bryce Elder took the mound for the Atlanta Braves on Sunday afternoon against the Yankees to start his campaign for the fifth starting role.

Bryce Elder took the mound for the Atlanta Braves on Sunday afternoon against the Yankees. People will notice many things about this game. Atlanta’s entire lineup was short all regular starters, and players are still adjusting to the pitch clock. Me, I noticed that Bryce Elder has a new look about him. 

What is so Special About This Beard?

Bryce Elder burst onto the scene last year with an early season start then received an assignment to the triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett. Elder spiraled down a path of mediocrity and inconsistency until one trip to Norfolk.

“We went to Norfolk,” Elder said in an interview with Mark Bowman. “I had been really inconsistent and not really any good. I forgot my razor and then for two weeks I threw good. So I was like, ‘I’m going to keep [the beard].’ It worked out.”

The Bearded Vs. The Bald

Much to Brian Snitker’s chagrin, there are no facial hair codes for the Braves players, so it was here to stay. The 46-season vet in the Braves organization was not fond of Elder’s new look, but, best believe, he enjoyed the spoils that seemingly came with the facial hair. Superstitions, rituals, and traditions are like gospel in baseball, and this beard is no different. In Elder’s head, it was the ticket to his recent success.

When the Mets came to town in the final series of 2022, Elder, wooly as ever, was one of the pitchers that took the mound, walking in with a 1.75 ERA in his last four starts. The righty out of Texas is one of the primary arms that helped Atlanta secure that series.

Elder Comes to Spring Training with a New Look

Fast forward four months, and we see a baby-faced Elder walking into Cool Today Park. In his first game back, Elder pitched 1.2 innings while giving up four runs by way of a grand slam and zero strikeouts. I do not need to tell you this is not the performance you are looking for, especially when the Braves are having a battle as to who will be in that fifth spot in the rotation. 

According to my calculations, it took around two weeks for Elder to grow his beard to peak “Mountain Man” status, as Snitker liked to call it. Elder’s next start should be in a week and a half to two weeks. This means, to me, that there is enough time for Elder to ditch the razor and get back into form in order to compete with Ian Anderson and Mike Soroka for the coveted fifth spot in the Braves’ rotation. 

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