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.