The Braves desperately needed a gem from their starter on Wednesday to avoid falling even further behind in the NL East. Thankfully, they had Kyle Wright on the mound, who has been nothing short of spectacular all season long. The former fifth overall pick went on to toss six scoreless innings of three-hit ball, and perhaps the most impressive part about the outing is that he didn’t even have his best stuff. Wright walked five batters but was able to calm down and make pitches when he needed them most, something that plagued him early in his career.
It’s astounding that this is the same man that has pitched for the Braves over the last four seasons. The strides he has made are eye-popping, and they were noticeable early in the year. His repertoire is second to none; it’s always been about confidence and control with Wright, especially with runners on base. He seems to have figured that out, and the results are speaking for themselves.
Wednesday was the seventh quality start Wright’s put together out of ten, and he’s really only had one outing that one would call shaky — an early May start against the Red Sox in which he surrendered six earned runs. In the other two starts that were not considered quality, Wright only surrendered two runs over 10 innings. On the season, he carries a 2.41 ERA and leads all Braves players in bWAR. He’s been the best pitcher on the team through two months, which is impressive, because Max Fried looks as good as he ever has on the mound.
So far, it’s been another ho-hum season for the Braves ace. He’s second on the team in bWAR, posting a 5-2 record with a 3.10 ERA and nearly all of his stats are identical to last season, but the eye test tells me he’s taken a step forward in 2022. Fried’s throwing harder than ever before, and he’s found a changeup that he relies on, giving him a legit five-pitch mix. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him go on one of his patented two-month runs where he’s nearly unhittable soon — like he did after the All-Star break last season — which would put him firmly in the conversation for the NL Cy Young as well.
There are elite one-two punches across the majors. You don’t have to look any further than the Braves division to find the best one — when healthy — in Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer. I would be foolish to try and compare Fried/Wright to them right now, but for as young as these Braves arms are, there may be a day where they are talked about as one of the best tandems in the majors.