In a season marred by injuries and underperformance, righty Huascar Ynoa has stepped in and kept the Atlanta Braves rotation afloat. The 22-year-old took a 2.96 ERA from five starts (and one relief appearance) into Tuesday night's start against the Washington Nationals (GameTracker). He struck out 34 batters and walked only six in 27 1/3 innings.
Ynoa is saving Atlanta's offense, too. He slugged his first career home run in his previous start and he got a brand name: Chicago Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks. On Tuesday, Ynoa hit his second career home run. This one was a grand slam against Nationals righty Tanner Rainey. To the action footage:
Statcast measured the home run at 427 feet, so it was not a cheap little homer. I mean, dead center field! Also, Ynoa threw a 99.6 mph fastball Tuesday night, which was the night's fastest pitch in baseball at the time.
Ynoa is the first pitcher to hit a grand slam since Anthony DeSclafani, then with the Cincinnati Reds, in June 2018. He's also the first pitcher to go deep in back-to-back games since Steven Matz did it with the New York Mets in Sept. 2018.
Here's where it gets weird though: Ynoa is the first Braves pitcher to hit a grand slam since lefty Jaime Garcia on July 21, 2017. Three days later, Atlanta traded Garcia to the Minnesota Twins for ... Huascar Ynoa. How about that?
With the universal DH expected to become permanent as part of the new collective bargaining agreement next year, there's a decent chance Ynoa will be the last pitcher to hit a grand slam in baseball history.