Since the beginning of May, the Braves rotation has been among the best in baseball from top to bottom. Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly have been playing up to the contracts they received over the winter, and Max Fried has regained form since coming back from the IL, once again looking like one of the best pitchers in the NL. Once Ian Anderson returns, which he’s expected to this weekend, this group will be locked and loaded for the stretch run, but we can’t forget about all of the other young arms that have kept this group afloat to this point.
Outside of a foolish mistake — one that cost him three months on the IL — Huascar Ynoa has been the breakout star of this year’s rotation. The 23-year-old has accrued 2.3 WAR in just 10 starts, thanks to a 2.89 ERA and 10.1 K/9. If he continues to pitch like this, there’s no way the Braves can keep him out of a potential playoff rotation, but he has some competition because Touki Toussaint has been electric as well.
Like many pitchers, it took a little while for Toussaint to find his footing at the major-league level, but his 2021 output appears sustainable. Over seven starts, the 25-year-old righty has posted a 3.69 ERA, and that number is significantly better if you take out one poor appearance against the Brewers in which he surrendered seven earned runs over just 3.1 innings. Whether out of the bullpen or as a starter, Toussaint will be a key piece to this team down the stretch and into the playoffs, and this is a guy people were ready to give up on, which leads to this next point.
I’m pretty certain a large portion of the fan base would trade Kyle Wright for a laundry machine and a large Dominos pizza without blinking. The 2017 5th overall pick in the draft just hasn’t panned out as a major-leaguer thus far despite being given every opportunity to put a stranglehold on a rotation spot. However, I still think it’s way too early to give up on a player with this much talent.
Despite the abysmal results at the major-league level, Wright has the repertoire to succeed. Much like Touki Toussaint, it’s all about finding consistency. From there, comes confidence, and once a pitcher with stuff like Wright gains confidence, the sky is the limit. That’s exactly what we are seeing out of Touki Toussaint right now.
As much as I would have liked to see Wright succeed in the majors this season, I’m glad he’s finally sticking in one place. The Braves have opted to keep him in Gwinnett for nearly all of 2021, and he has found his footing there over the last month or so. Wright hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in his last eight starts, leading to a 2.89 ERA over 46.2 innings.
Given how many young starting pitchers the Braves now have that are major-league ready, I’m not sure how many more opportunities Wright will get in Atlanta — if any. However, if he keeps performing like this, he will build up some trade value at the very least. It’s important to remember every player’s path to the majors is different, and it is normal for them to struggle mightily when they first arrive. Not everyone is Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies. There’s a very good chance that Wright eventually figures it out and becomes a decent asset to a major-league club in some capacity down the road.