MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies
USA TODAY

Atlanta Braves right-hander Kyle Wright became Major League Baseball's first 20-game winner of the 2022 season, picking up the win in his team's 6-3 victory on Saturday over the Philadelphia Phillies to improve to 20-5 on the season. Wright didn't allow his first hit of the game until there was one out in the sixth and worked 5 1/3 innings with two runs on two hits and six strikeouts against a pair of walks. Both runs that Wright permitted came on a Bryce Harper home run. Wright is the Braves' first 20-game winner since Russ Ortiz in 2003. 

In his age-26 season, Wright now boasts a 3.18 ERA with 171 strikeouts and 52 walks in 175 ⅓ innings. All of that makes for a career year for the former No. 5 overall pick out of Vanderbilt. 

Coming into this season, Wright had struggled badly to adapt to hitters at the highest level. He lugged around a pre-2022 ERA of 6.56, and he had spent most of 2021 in Triple-A. The good news for Wright and the Braves is that a revamped approach yielded big results this year. In addition to adding some velocity to his fastball, Wright has lowered his release point a bit and changed his pitch mix. On that latter point, Wright has eased back a bit on his percentage of fastballs and way back on his percentage of sliders in favor of more curves and changeups. All of that helped a pitcher who was battling for No. 5 starter's job in spring become a frontline hurler for the reigning champs. Wins are not a particularly illuminating statistic when it comes to individual performance, but Wright has been legit in 2022. 

Also of note is that Wright's 20th win was a significant one. That Braves victory in tandem with the New York Mets' 10-4 loss to the lowly Oakland A's means the Braves are now just 1 1/2 games out of first place in the NL East. The stakes are high, as the NL East champ will almost certainly join the Los Angeles Dodgers in enjoying a first-round bye in the postseason.