Facing one of baseball’s best lineups so far this season in the Mets (entered Sunday tied with the Braves for fourth-most WAR, per FanGraphs), righty Kyle Wright threw the entire kitchen sink on his way to the second win of his career. It took parts of three seasons to finally get in the win column in the majors, but the 24-year-old wasted no time getting his second one as the Braves shut-out New York 7-0 in the team’s final road game of 2020.
"For me, that's just kind of allowing the confidence to come from my preparation and then just go out there and compete."
Kyle Wright is pitching with renewed confidence. pic.twitter.com/D4AZ4m0dWi
— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) September 20, 2020
A double in the 3rd inning off the bat of Mets’ catcher Wilson Ramos was the only mistake Wright made on Sunday, as he flew through 6.1 innings of one-hit ball, walking just one and striking out six. The start scored a 76 (Game Score), which goes down as easily the best start of Wright’s 2020 season, not to mention his entire career, resulting in two of his best-three outings coming versus the Mets…
Wright’s career top-3 starts (per GSc)
- 9/20 — 2020 vs. NYM: 6 IP, H, 0 ER, BB, 6 K (76 GSc)
- 4/6 — 2019 vs. MIA: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K, 2 HR (57 GSc)
- 8/2 — 2020 vs. NYM: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K (51 GSc)
Wright had all of his pitches working Sunday, mixing in his fastball, sinker, curveball, slider, and changeup about as evenly as possible and throwing each of his five offerings at least ten times while generating swings and misses with all of them. He even spread out his strikeouts, as Wright’s six punchouts came from two changeups and two curveballs, as well as one each with his sinker and slider. The Braves’ righty had to deal with just one 3-0 count all game, and only in the 3rd inning did he appear to be laboring, as he needed 27 pitches to get through the frame. Manager Brian Snitker came and got Wright with one out in the 7th after he walked J.D. Davis on six pitches. Minutes later, reliever Will Smith got Dominic Smith to ground into a double-play to end the inning, holding the Braves’ one-run lead and eventually giving way to Chris Martin in the 8th and Mark Melancon in the 9th.
The Braves wound up adding on versus the Mets’ bullpen, scoring two more runs in the 8th and four in the 9th. Ronald Acuna Jr. led the offense with a 2 for 3 performance, featuring a home run and a double to go along with four RBI (he also walked and struck out once).
Is Wright ready for the postseason?
Though it wasn’t specifically about Wright, I wrote about this very topic last Friday, in my post examining potential no. 4 starters for the upcoming playoffs. I listed Wright, Josh Tomlin, Huascar Ynoa, Sean Newcomb, Touki Toussaint, and Mike Foltynewicz (if healthy) as possible candidates, though concluded the write-up by choosing Tomlin as my choice. Here’s the last paragraph of my excerpt on Wright, from that post…
“Wright is slated to start the final game of the Mets series this weekend — a day game at Citi Field. He walked four in his last outing versus the Mets (August 2nd) but managed to strike out five in 3.1 scoreless frames — per Game Score (51), that’s Wright’s best start of the 2020 season. I need to see at least one more respectable outing from Wright. Maybe it’ll happen on Sunday.”
Well… Wright did indeed put together one more respectable outing, which is exactly what I needed to see. The problem, though, is that in his last two seasons as a big-league starter (he pitched in relief in 2018), Wright has NEVER pitched well in back-to-back outings, which still leaves me a bit worried. As shown above, his most-recent “good” start came back in early August against the Marlins. However, Wright followed up that start by allowing four runs (2 HR) versus the Phillies. Last season’s “good” start, as shown above, was a five-hitter against the Marlins on April 6th, but Wright couldn’t build off of the momentum, for in his very next outing (April 12th) he gave up six runs in 3.2 innings in a loss to the Mets.
So while I will say that I’m beginning to lean more towards Wright when it comes to the possibility of him getting a start this postseason, I’ll also admit that perhaps I should’ve said two more respectable outings, instead of just one. Wright can put together a strong start every now and then, but the real question is, can he actually manage two in a row?
Maybe the Braves only need one start from Wright in the playoffs. Perhaps after the NLDS can line up the rotation in a way that’ll allow Max Fried, Cole Hamels, or Ian Anderson to double-up. Who knows. But if Wright can continue to give the Braves a chance to win during his outings, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t get an opportunity come playoff time. I mean, the Mets have a damn good offense, and he mowed through them with relative ease. We’ll see how Wright does next weekend against the Red Sox (the Braves’ final series of the regular season).