First, it was Dansby Swanson, who began feeling discomfort in his heel eventually leading to a stint on the IL. At the time, the Braves were confident it would be a quick recovery, and that he would be ready once the mandatory ten days had passed. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and the medical staff still isn’t quite prepared to put a timetable on his return.
Soon after Swanson’s initial injury, Nick Markakis suffered a fractured wrist after being hit by a pitch. The Braves weren’t so subtle regarding his return, however. In the postgame press conference, most everybody was aware he would miss significant time and possibly the rest of the season. Markakis was later diagnosed with a fractured wrist, and an expected return was scheduled for six to eight weeks. In hindsight, it could have been much worse. The Braves remain hopeful he will be ready before the start of the postseason.
And most recently, Austin Riley has been placed on the IL with a knee ligament injury that he sustained while lifting weights. The severity of the diagnosis is unknown, and he will undergo further testing, but any time you hear “knee ligament” and “injury” in the same sentence, the prognosis is not often favorable.
For a team that has remained remarkably healthy the entire season, now is not the time to start piling up the injuries. Swanson is the one I’m least worried about. His injury should not last for much longer, although, Brian Snitker did say he would have to play in at least one rehab game before returning to Atlanta. If the Braves get anything out of Markakis this year; it’s all icing on the cake. Most people expected him to miss the remainder of the season after a gruesome injury.
However, Austin Riley’s situation is the one that hurts the most. The Braves have shown they are at their best with him in a groove. He brings a different dimension to the offense, adding unprecedented power. Nobody needed these final two months, whether it be in the majors or AAA, more than Riley, and now we don’t know if he will be able to return this season. I think he will, but there’s a substantial chance the Braves will have to navigate through October without him.