Hot bats and untimely injuries
The Braves have shown no shortage of confidence in their ability this year. Through 13 games, they’ve won nine, including three straight. The bats have been steady; however, their injury concerns are holding them back on the mound.
Max Fried left the opening-day game with a strained hamstring after throwing a solid game up until that point. The southpaw that finished second in the NL Cy Young race last year is the heart and soul of the pitching staff. Without him, this group goes from elite to something closer to average. Thankfully, he’s nearing a return. Hopefully, he and Kyle Wright, who made his season debut on Monday, can look closer to their normal selves sooner rather than later.
Offensively, Michael Harris II has been on the IL for about a week now. This, too, isn’t that worrisome, but the lack of his presence in the lineup has been felt, even if Sam Hilliard has filled in admirably. Travis d’Arnaud is also on the concussion IL after a collision at the plate last weekend. He should be back soon, but it is the fourth concussion he’s suffered in his career, so we’ll have to see how the Braves adjust his role moving forward.
Braves are no strangers to these troubles
The Braves are no stranger to the trials and tribulations of injury-riddled seasons; in 2021, Acuña went down with his ACL, and last year, Ozzie Albies‘ missed most of the season with two separate significant injuries. Depth is what makes this team the class of the National League, and we’ve seen that in the form of Bryce Elder, Dylan Dodd, Jared Shuster, Sam Hilliard, and Sean Murphy so far this season, which is why Atlanta still sits atop the NL East.
Dylan Dodd, a rookie with a lot of hype coming into the season, did not disappoint in his MLB debut. Up against a stacked St Louis Cardinals offense, Dodd only gave up one run on six hits through five innings. That’s about as much as you can possibly ask for from a pitcher making his first major-league appearance.
Dodd’s next start wasn’t nearly as pretty. I will give him the benefit of the doubt; he was going against a dangerous Padres lineup, but ten hits and seven earned runs in four innings is a lousy line, no matter the opponent. Dodd has now been optioned to Gwinnett after the Braves reinstated Kyle Wright. However, I believe we could see him again after some more seasoning in AAA. He showed some confidence and potential for a pitcher that had only logged 6.2 innings in Gwinnett prior to his MLB debut.
As far as Shuster goes, he was dreadful in his first two starts. He had no command of his stuff and seemed afraid to attack batters, especially with runners on. Without question, Dodd looked like the more MLB ready pitcher, even if the sample size was minuscule.
Things are starting to look up in the ATL
Tuesday, the Braves took Wright off of the IL and brought him back up to make his season debut. He went three innings, giving up four hits and four walks, striking out three batters. It was not the performance the Braves were looking for; his command was abysmal, but that’s not abnormal for a pitcher making his first major-league start after rehabbing his shoulder all offseason.
Photo: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire
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