Prior to the Braves Game 1 matchup with the Phillies, we were made aware that Kyle Wright would be placed on the 60-day injured list and will likely undergo shoulder surgery that will keep him out for the 2024 season, according to The Athletic’s David O’Brien.
Wright’s shoulder injury stems from Spring Training, which resulted in him opening the season on the 15-day IL. When he made it back, he was a shell of himself. After just five starts, he returned to the IL, where he would spend the next four months.
Wright returned after that extended layoff and pitched four games, two as a starter and two as a reliever. He even made an appearance in the team’s intrasquad scrimmages prior to the NLDS. However, when the Braves announced the playoff roster, Wright was nowhere to be found.
An MRI on Friday revealed more shoulder damage. He’ll essentially miss two seasons of his prime because he only threw 31 innings this year. It’s a brutal blow for the Braves and Wright, who looked like he was on the cusp of becoming an elite starter in this league.
Expectations were sky-high for him in 2023. He posted a 3.19 ERA over 180.1 innings in 2022, leading the majors in wins with a 21-5 record. Now, it’s worth wondering if he’ll ever be that guy again. Shoulder and elbow injuries can be catastrophic for pitchers, but there’s reason to be optimistic with modern medicine and rehab that Kyle Wright can at least return to the majors.
For the Braves, it does cloud the starting rotation for 2024. Spencer Strider is locked into an extension through 2028, but Max Fried is a free agent after 2024, and Charlie Morton could potentially retire after this season.
Bryce Elder pitched well in the first half of the season but struggled down the stretch. Jared Shuster, Dylan Dodd, and Allan Winans had moments throughout the season; however, they cannot be considered serious contenders for a spot in the rotation.
A.J. Smith-Shawver is by far the brightest young pitcher in Atlanta’s system. If AJSS pans out, the loss of Kyle Wright will sting a whole lot less. Hell, Hurston Waldrep, Atlanta’s first-round pick from this past draft cycle, could very well establish himself as a part of next year’s rotation.
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