Shuster has allowed three runs or fewer and lasted at least five innings in each of the three starts he has made since returning to the Majors. The left-hander has 15 strikeouts and six walks over 16 2/3 innings during that span.
It’s safe to say his command has been much better than it was, when he issued nine walks and recorded just five strikeouts while totaling 8 2/3 innings in the two starts he made before being optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett in early April.
Shuster’s confidence gained a big boost on May 21, when he allowed just one run and one hit over six innings against the Mariners. He notched his first career win with that effort and followed it up by allowing the Phillies three runs over 5 2/3 innings on Friday. His next assignment will come Wednesday, when he starts against the A’s in Oakland.
Braves manager Brian Snitker has been pleased with what he’s seen from both Shuster and Dylan Dodd, who was sent back to Gwinnett after making a spot start on Thursday.
“With the limited experience they both have, you can see they will be very productive Major League pitchers for a long time,” Snitker said.
Right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver, the Braves’ No. 4 prospect, continues to be one of the game’s most intriguing prospects. Just two years after starting to pitch at the high school level on a consistent basis, the 20-year-old has allowed four runs, recorded 13 strikeouts and issued five walks through his first 12 innings (two starts) at the Triple-A level.
First baseman Drew Lugbauer has hit a team-high 10 homers in 141 plate appearances, with 56 strikeouts and 19 walks. His home run rate is down slightly, but his strikeout and walk rates are similar to last year, when he finished the year with 28 homers, 75 walks and 212 strikeouts against Double-A pitching.