Braves: Kyle Wright struggles in return, but Brian Snitker thinks he’s close

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Tuesday night featured an exciting matchup for Braves fans with the Marlins. For Atlanta, 2017 5th overall pick Kyle Wright made his return to the majors after a rough start to his 2020 that saw him demoted back to the team’s alternate site. Miami countered with Sixto Sanchez, one of the most exciting young pitchers in the majors – who was making his first appearance against the Braves. 

Wright’s last start came on August 19th against the same Marlins, which saw him walk six batters, leading to three earned runs in just three innings. However, due to injuries and miserable performances from the rest of Atlanta’s rotation, they were left with little choice but to give Wright another opportunity. General Manager Alex Anthopoulos also stated that Wright made several adjustments at the team’s alternate site that they believed would help him finally feel comfortable at the major league level. However, those signs were few and far between on Tuesday night. 

Wright looked tremendous in the first inning, pounding the strike zone with his fastball and setting the Marlins down in order. In the second, he made one mistake: a spinning slider to Matt Joyce to lead off the inning that resulted in a line drive home run just over the right-field wall. Miami managed another hit in the frame, but Wright was able to get out of trouble without any further damage. 

Wright made a similar mistake in the third inning to Jorge Alfaro, who smacked a towering blast to the opposite field, landing 415 feet away from home plate. Once again, it was a spinning slider, but solo shots from young pitchers generally aren’t something to worry about. To this point, Wright had made a couple of mistakes, and the Marlins just did not miss them. 

The fourth inning is where the wheels fell off. A walk to start the frame always seems to be what comes back to bite any young pitcher, but especially Wright. The very next batter, Garrett Cooper, homered to stretch the Marlins’ lead to four. Wright then walked another, who later came home to score on a single from Jorge Alfaro before getting out of the jam. 

That would be the last inning for Wright – final line: 4.0 innings, 7 hits, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Incredibly, that was actually Wright’s second-longest appearance of the year, which tells you how much he’s struggled in 2020. His ERA now sits at 8.05, but given the Braves’ situation, they don’t have much choice but to look at the positives, which is what Brian Snitker did after the game. 

Snitker isn’t delusional. He’s well aware this was far from a good outing, but there were some positives to take from Wright’s latest start. His control, especially with his fastball, was much better. Wright showed some resiliency, bouncing back from his mistakes. The Vanderbilt product did start to come unraveled a bit in the fourth inning, but the fact that he could compose himself and finish the frame is something he probably wouldn’t have been capable of last month. 

The Braves are in an extremely unenviable position. With a 1.5 game lead over the Phillies and only 18 more games to play, they don’t have time to wait for their young arms to figure things out. However, they also don’t have any better options to turn to. Wright has the stuff to pop if he can gain some confidence, and the Braves will just have to sit back and hope that he does down the stretch run, or their quest for a third consecutive NL East title will have a much different ending than expected just a couple of weeks ago. 

Photo: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire


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