Braves 2021 Player Review: Kyle Muller

Kyle Muller has long been my favorite prospect, and alas his time has come… maybe. Called up for the first time in 2021, Kyle pitched in 9 games throwing 36.2 innings with a 4.17 ERA. Nothing to write home about, but not too shabby for his first cup of coffee. As has been the problem for Muller throughout the minors, his control issues persisted in the majors. He surrendered almost as many free passes as he did hits and added 9 wild pitches.

We’re going to pretend this is Kyle Muller

Prospect Ranking

Muller was ranked as the Braves 5th prospect at the last MLB Pipeline update, just above fellow lefty Tucker Davidson. At 6’7” and 250 pounds Muller is a force to be reckoned with on the mound. Muller has not yet cracked the top 100 list, but I think he’s on the cusp and there is potential he could find himself on the 2022 list when it’s released. His best pitches are his fastball that can reach triple digits and his curveball, but he also has a slider and changeup that continue to improve. It would be great to see him show up to Spring Training as a legit 4-pitch pitcher. Definitely more important than adding the extra pitches, Muller needs to take a big step forward on control. At the previous MLB pipeline update his lowest ranking tool was his control at 45, compared to his fastball/curveball at 65 and 55 and his overall a 50.

2021 Review

Muller split his time almost exactly 2/3 in Gwinnett and 1/3 in Atlanta in 2021. He was almost an identical pitcher at both levels. He held a much lower 3.39 ERA in his 79.2 AAA innings, but his runs/9 were 4.18 and his BB/9 and H/9 were almost identical with a slight uptick in K/9. The cause for the most concern is the wild pitches. Kyle had 15 wild pitches in AAA and the aforementioned 9 in the MLB. He also had 37 wild pitches in his previous 4 minor league seasons combined. It’s clear Muller has knock out stuff and the results have shown, but he has struggled with getting deep into games and will have outings where he simply gets blown up. Of his 26 combined appearances in 2021, just 7 resulted in 3+ runs. That’s fantastic, except he only made it through 5+ innings in exactly half of those appearances, mainly attributable to the number of walks he allowed and how deep he gets in pitch counts.

2022 Preview

I would love to see Muller show up in Spring Training with a full offseason of work under his belt ready to compete. If he can lower his BB/9 from 5 to something like 3.5 this season he would be in for a monster year. Fangraphs is projecting him to have a similar year to 2021, spending most of it in AAA and making around 10 starts and throwing 40-50 innings with similar results. Spring Training will be a battle (if this lockout ends and we actually get Spring Training), but I wouldn’t be shocked whatsoever to see Muller break camp with a spot in the rotation, and if he does, I would keep a close eye on him. This kid has the tools to be special in the bigs, it all depends on if he can take what he learned and improve.

Author: Matt P

Hello, I’m Matt Pocza! I am a 4th year finance and economics student at the University of Florida and I love the Atlanta Braves. I’ve played baseball my entire life, and I am a sidearm pitcher for the club team at Florida. I also enjoy scuba diving, football and business. Follow me on twitter @braves_rumors!

13 thoughts on “Braves 2021 Player Review: Kyle Muller”

  1. Nice work, Matt. The hardest guys to write about are the guys with the most uncertainty, and Kyle Muller is pretty much at the top of the list, along with Davidson, and maybe Pache.

    Speaking of uncertainty, and aided by this piece (http://www.joesheehan.com/2022/02/the-joe-sheehan-newsletter-february-14.html) I now doubt we’ll lose more than about two weeks of the season. But I still don’t think we’ll start on time. Once you’re only fighting about money, things can come together more quickly.

  2. Presenting this tweet for an accuracy check.

    Regardless and unrelated, there’s a comment below about a frustrated local fan that can’t watch his Rays with the streaming services, which is certainly true and frustrating. Like, why can’t people watch their local team when they shell out good money for services like YouTube TV? There is a conversation about TV access amongst us every couple years where the exact instances of access stupidity changes and there are no solutions. Very dumb.

  3. The Super Bowl is different for a number of reasons, but the best comparison is with the NBA, which is similar. But Monday Night Football has fallen far faster than that.

    NBA Finals Ratings: 1987:16 2021:5 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_Finals_television_ratings)

    Awards ceremonies: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/02/oscars-2021-nielsen-data-shows-viewers-have-lost-interest-in-award-shows.html

    To your larger point, Rob, though, it seems clear that the RSN age is coming to an end. The problem is that an RSN costs a cable company a lot of money, and only a minority of customers are interested. They’re going to have to move to (even more expensive) stand-alone services. The age of non-sports-watchers subsidizing sports watchers is on its last legs.

  4. Everything had higher ratings in the ‘80s. There were less alternatives, both within the television space (fewer channels, less ability to watch something if it wasn’t being broadcast right this second) and without it (video games, streaming services, livestreams).

    MLB’s marketing of its product is unquestionably piss poor, but TV ratings are maybe the worst argument it’s possible to make for that?

  5. @4 I agree. Comparing viewers to the 1980s is pointless.

    I think Fox has done more to hurt the game with these awful start times as anything.

  6. Quoting ratings from when there were three networks and a VCR was the only way to record anything is…questionable at best.

    I also don’t think start times are particularly different now. You do have the earlier rounds where they’ve chosen to stack all the games on a day instead of going the NBA route and elongating to make sure everything’s in primetime. Other than that, though, the games started after 8 p.m. Eastern in the 80s, as well.

  7. Baseball is alive and well in Warner Robins, Georgia.

    The Veterans High School War Hawks outlasted Perry, a but not the crosstown rival. Both staffs resembled the Braves in a walk the park contest, but the stands were loud, raucous and cheerfully obnoxious.
    A good time was had by all.

    The czars and serfs may squabble, but baseball, that wonderful game, still thrives.

  8. In Nashville, TN as well. I bundled up last night and cheered on my VandyBoys to an opening day win over Oklahoma St. Not much offense on the 39-degree night, but 18 strikeouts by our pitchers paved the way in 3-0 victory. Good crowd there as well.

    Still hoping for as close to a full MLB season as possible, but personally I could go until June just on college ball.

  9. 2 — I don’t know about the accuracy of that tweet, but I do know that Marc Ryan is a radio talking head that will say anything to make people mad to generate higher ratings for his show. He isn’t a reputable source, and take what he says with a grain of salt.

  10. I agree with the OP. Kyle Muller has the potential to be a really good starter if he can harness his control and command like Max Fried did.

    If he can’t, it is more likely that he is a reliever. Or that he becomes Sean Newcomb/Touki Toussaint Part III.

  11. 7&8 – I am right there with you. I actually made the switch last year, as I refused to pay a new RSN provider to bombard my teenager with the non-stop sportsbook. I can’t say I didn’t miss MLB – and I caught games when I could – but high school ball into travel, as well as NCAA baseball and softball more than filled my jones. Looking forward to more of the same.

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