This post could’ve easily been titled “The Curious Case of Kyle Wright,” but that somehow felt even more cliche than the eventual title.
This thought exercise of sorts began, as so many do these days, on Twitter. As Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Robbie Erlin was getting beat all over Fenway Park in the early goings of Wednesday’s game – which the Braves eventually won 7-5 – MLB.com writer Mark Bowman had an interesting comment.
Now, to my knowledge, the team has not confirmed anything of the sort, but frequently, when Bowman tweets something like this, it’s more than just a guess. So I assume that when Erlin’s turn next comes around Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies, we shouldn’t be surprised if Wright makes that start instead.
Does Kyle Wright Help?
First of all, from a team competitiveness standpoint, I’m not even sure that Wright can be outright considered a better option than Erlin at this point. After surrendering 5 earned runs on Wednesday, the 29-year-old lefty had a 6.19 ERA in 16 innings across four starts with a 1.180 WHIP. Wright has also started four games this season, covering just 15 innings with a 7.20 ERA and a 2.200 WHIP. Wright has not been as prone to giving up the home run, but when the rest of the numbers are what they are, that may not matter as much.
What can’t be argued is that Wright holds a much bigger place in the future of the Braves’ franchise. At the very least, the 24-year-old former No. 5 overall pick should be a major piece of a blockbuster trade, and at most, he could be a stalwart in the Braves’ rotation. Erlin is a temporary stopgap that was claimed on waivers from the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.
Some have even suggested that the time is now for Wright to establish himself in Atlanta. When you look at minor-league inning counts, it’s hard to see where that’s true.
If you go back to the “Big Three” of the 1990s Braves, it’s often pointed out that pitchers of that era often struggled when they came to the big leagues. That’s true, and it was something of an advantage that pitchers like Tom Glavine and John Smoltz came up when the Braves were terrible and could focus on their development instead of the team’s success.
But those pitchers also spent a significant amount of time in the minor leagues, with Glavine racking up 536 minors innings before he stuck in the majors and Smoltz getting 377. Their eventual teammate Greg Maddux got 490. To fast-forward a bit, former Brave Dallas Keuchel – a college guy like Wright – amassed 487 innings in the minors before he came up for the Houston Astros.
Wright has pitched just 267 innings in the minor leagues.
Now, in case anyone is ready to point out that we are in a different era now – an argument that I’m not sure matters a lot – let’s take a peek at some other young Braves arms. Mike Soroka got 360 innings in the minors before he hit the bigs, Max Fried got 419 and Touki Toussaint got more than 500.
That difference between Fried and Wright of 160 innings or so is basically a full season of minor-league development, and most of us could agree that Wright could use that right now.
Maybe Kyle Wright will overcome this, come up Tuesday throwing darts and make me look really dumb. That would fantastic. But if not, perhaps letting Erlin take the lumps in a couple more starts instead of having Wright get beat up when he may truly not be ready for the major leagues would be a better idea.
Further, if there’s a prospect who’s at the “poop or get off the pot” point of his career, it’s Toussaint and not Wright. Also with four starts this year, Touki has pitched 17 2/3 innings with a 6.11 ERA and a 1.302 WHIP, and while those numbers aren’t great, they’re better that Wright or Erlin. With twice as many minors innings, it’s also tough to argue Toussaint needs more development.
Regardless, fans need to accept that no matter how much we may want it to be, it might not be the … Wright time yet.
Ozzie Albies Update
This is fantastic news. Now the big question… where does Ozzie Albies hit in the lineup? I’m guessing back 1/3, maybe even 9th until he can prove that he’s fully healed and ready to go.
There’s now no doubt in my mind. Chad Sobotka is definitely with the team at all times as a permanent member of the taxi squad.
Maybe there’ll be a W tonight and 0 need to complain about decisions made in -game.
good points.I for one have zero desire to see Kyle Wright throw another pitch for the Atlanta Braves until 2021. Painfully obvious he isn’t ready.
Even Ian Anderson has pitched 377 minor league innings. There is a tendency to count Wright’s 255 college innings. You shouldn’t, at least not anywhere near one-for-one.
And JC’d (responding to JamesD84 in the previous thread) Per BRef, the Bravesâ€™ chances of winning the second game last night when Austin Riley strode the plate in the bottom of the 7th was 54%.
One thing that probably should be discussed more is that all of these players should probably be seeing a sports psychologist. I would hazard a guess that quite a few players are dealing with a whole bunch of stuff right now – God knows everyone else in the world is – and there is no question that mental health and strength are as crucial to athletic success as physical health and strength.
I have no idea whether the struggles of our young pitchers has anything to do with mental health. But we all know what Jack Llewellyn was able to do in John Smoltz’s career and life. I’d bet that quite a lot of our players could benefit from similar assistance.
I still have a lot of hope that Wright will be a good ML pitcher. His stuff is far too good to give up on. But I agree completely that heâ€™s not ready. I guess before this year I looked at his age and just kind of assumed it was his time. Youâ€™ve convinced me, though, that the minor league innings are (usually) necessary for development. Even Steve Avery when he was called up at age 20 had over 300 minor league innings.
Doc Gooden may be an exception; at 19 he was obviously ready for the bigs. But even he had right at 200 IP in the minors.
Verlander is an interesting exception. Drafted out of Old Dominion he has (as of now) 127 minor league innings under his belt. I don’t know how to prove this, but I suspect his ratio of wins to minor league innings will be the best in MLB history when he retires. He’s closing in on 2-1. Can anybody think of another?
Stop looking. I forgot about Bob Feller, who skipped the minor leagues entirely and made his debut at 17. I’m not upset when I find that Kyle Wright<Bob Feller. I think I already knew that.
Also: Catfish Hunter and Sandy Koufax.
Koufax sort of makes the point of needing experience. He was one of the 1950â€™s bonus babies who could not be sent to the minors for two years. He pitched over 500 innings in the big leagues before he became the hall of fame pitcher we all remember. Those first six years in the majors were pretty mediocre.
Great…two starts in a row Max has nothing
I think Fried might be broken.
Previous 2 starts have been going downhill, and this 1st inning looks terrible
On the plus side, this makes his arbitration years more affordable :/
Can’t afford for Max to be mortal.
No command again. Eventually they will adjust to the get me over curve ball as well
Must see TV.
I think Ronald might be mad that Tatis Jr, Soto , and others are being named better young players than him.
I was just defending Chip a couple of days ago, but here is a Chippism I canâ€™t let go. He said the Nats need to manufacture runs because they donâ€™t have a single hitter in their lineup with double digits in home runs. True, but thatâ€™s hardly the measure of lack of power. The Braves only have one, but they have plenty of power up
and down the lineup. Even 5 or 6 dingers at this point of this season shows plenty of pop.
Neck has been killing rallies for quite a few games. Ops down from over 1 to about .800
Maybe I’m missing something, but I dont really see the big stuff and high upside in Wright that so many other seem to. With guys like Touki, Folty, Fried and even Gohara, even during nad outings, I felt like the stuff was manifest, and it was just a matter of whether the stuff could be harnessed and optimized. I’d argue Wright’s perceived upside is mostly a result cache attached to being a high overslot draft pick and Vandy standout. Obviously, he was near the top of most draft boards for a reason, but I doubt that, without the pedigree, he’d be ranking so far above guys like Davidson or Wilson after such a lackluster showing in progressive ball.
Also, does anyone know whether Coppy’s ashtray throwing tantrum was coming from a pro or an anti Kyle Wright position?
Okay… why is the Braves organist playing Minnie the Moocher for Asdrubal Cabrera?
@18 – Cab Calloway
(slaps head) Ohh. Also, nice, d’Arnaud!
We got the right dâ€™Arnaud this time. What a good signing by AA.
Max has righted the ship quite well. Hopefully the offense can tack on a few runs and get another 2 innings out of him
Atta boy Adam
Lol… “Pop fly creeps over the wall.” Classic.
@24 but if it was 30 feet short of the track we get â€œthereâ€™s a drive!â€
That was the reason why the Braves got HechavarrÃa last year.
Johan adds nothing. Not having Ozzie is such a big void
Ugh, can’t wait for Ozzie to get back, though Swanson could have Ä£otten that.
So Max qualifies for the win!
I know this is just more post-mortem flaying of this particular horse, but Chip’s constant emphasis on the win stat continues to drive me crazy. At this point the problem lies with me; he’s not going to change and I just need to chill about it.
On the other hand, Frenchy’s point that the blown double play by Camargo will likely cost Fried the opportunity to pitch the sixth is a good one.
To Rob from the last thread. I have had a hard time getting excited about either baseball or college football this season. None of it seems to have the exuberance or fun that it has in the past.
I want to hear some of you guys backing off all the disparaging comments about Adam Duvall. Since mid last season, he has played to expectations. I insisted from the beginning that his defense should be considered (in 2018, he was a GG finalist).
And to @16, this has been Neck’s pattern for at least three years now. We have talked about this before. He starts hot every year (must be good offseason prep) and, for a month, everyone declares the return and wonderfulness of Nick Markakis Professional Hitter (TM). Then he tanks and becomes the same mediocre presence which is not even that if you take out the first month stats. He is back to being an everyday presence and should not be and certainly shouldn’t hit as high in the lineup as he does. Nick has gotten more ABs than anyone due to the NL DH. I sure would like to see Pache in CF, Acuna in RF, and a Duvall/Markakis platoon in LF.
Has anyone noticed the weird symbiotic effectiveness of having Riley and Duvall back-to-back in the second half of the lineup? At this point in their careers, they are pretty much the same hitter and, if one of them doesn’t get you, the other one does.
Nats announcers were talking smack about Acuna during his second AB about how he wouldn’t take a walk/ free swinger who chases, and since then he’s walked twice, lol.
I believe his OBP is over .500 in his last 16 games or so.
Edit: ughhhh, c’mon , Matzek!
Well no W for Fried tonight, Chip!
tfloyd: I’m impressed as you start to come around on Chip. But you’re not a full-fledged member until you start counting the times he starts a sentence “Let’s see if…” We’re at 37 so far tonight.
I guess I donâ€™t understand why you would follow up a lefty starter with a lefty reliever. Especially now that we learn the Nats have the highest average in baseball against lefties
Claude is having a bad night.
Un f-Ing believeable
Good thing Matzek didnt pitch last night so he would be ready for tonight.
Bunch of garbage hits by the nats this series.
Thanks to Camargo for not getting that ground ball, and for the error in the 5th which cost Fried pitching another inning.
methinks the overuse of the bullpen is beginning to show
this is the kind of inning that might tend to give a pitcher the yips.
Well, I thought Matzek should have pitched the seventh instead of
Weigel last night. Turns out it would have been no better!
The numbers the Nats have this season against Matzek make the decision to bring him in even more astute
Claude needs to become invisible again
Albies is coming back soon.
I vaguely thought it last time, but I really think it this time. We really should’ve let Max come out for the sixth. He had 90 pitches, which is not like an absurd number, and a sixth inning of him is almost certainly better than Tyler Matzek. Max is not gonna break if we get him to 100 pitches, and if he does, then he was probably gonna break anyway.
Max’s fastball is a couple miles slower than it was earlier in the season and I’ve been complaining about Snit’s slow hook all season. I have absolutely no problem with him babying Max considering that Max is literally our only pitcher.
@44 I didnâ€™t mind pulling Max, but the Nats have now twice lit Matzek up. It was a terrible decision to bring him in
On that Riley liner, Doolittle might have done just that.
is Snit saving Martin and Melancon for the playoffs? For next year?
Martin didnâ€™t pitch the last 2 days. Inexplicable.
Pretty sloppy game all the way around tonight. Sucks when you have one of your two legitimate starting pitchers going.
Sure, the bullpen management has been atrocious all season, but the players REALLY, REALLY like him.
Either Martin is secretly hurt or Snitker has just decided that he’s gonna give away a bunch of games, because why not.
I am dead inside.
Now we know we will get three in the 9th to come up just short (again)
I guess Luke is warming up because Culberson is unavailable.
Looks like Ziggy Sobotka is not the answer.
Not sure why we chose this series to take a left turn and decide to stop trying to win games. At least the Phillies finally lost, I guess.
Oh, he’s the answer… it’s the question that the problem.
We should have brought in Culberson.
“Sobotka” sounds like a low-end line of construction equipment.
Snit is getting killed on Twitter. Tons of people replying to Chipper when he turned the game off after Sobotka starting giving up runs asking him to come manage the team…lol
Just in time, Snit!!!! Almost let it get away from you, that was a f—— close one!!!
The hell with this! I’m turning this shit show off and refusing to think about it for the rest of the night, if possible. Have a good night, all! Here’s hoping Snitker actually has some interest in trying to win the game tomorrow!
Good news: Braves still in first place.
Bad news: the last 2 games – – what the hell?
More good news: Ozzie coming back and at least one starter (but I bet we add a couple of starters between Hamels, Newk, Wright or even Folty)
Recapped by Alan.
Iâ€™m a little perplexed. Maybe Iâ€™ve missed something but why have we skipped Andersonâ€™s start?