Monday night at Citizens Bank Park (GameTracker), the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves welcomed right-hander Kyle Wright back from a shoulder injury that had sidelined him since May. It did not go especially well. The Philadelphia Phillies tagged Wright for four runs in the first inning and six runs in three innings overall. He threw 62 pitches and was expected to throw 65-70.
Five of the first six batters Wright faced Monday reached base, and the sixth hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track. He gave up another two runs in the fourth inning before being pulled. Wright retired seven of eight batters at one point, though his velocity dipped after the first inning, which isn't too surprising given the long layoff. Here is Philadelphia's four-run, first-inning rally:
Wright, 27, made three minor-league rehab appearances before being activated. In those three rehab games, he threw 26, 31, and then 50 pitches. The 62 pitches Monday will have him on track to throw 70-75 in his next start. Wright will still need at least one more start after that to get fully stretched out, not to mention refine his command and get into midseason form, so to speak.
"I can't wait to watch him pitch," Braves manager Brian Snitker recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Wright rejoining the rotation. "He was supposed to pitch Sunday (in Triple-A) and we thought, why not let him get the innings here? I think it's a great call. I mean, he's healthy. He feels really good about everything."
A year ago, Wright, the No. 5 pick in the 2017 draft, pitched to a 3.19 ERA in 180 1/3 innings. He led the majors with 21 wins, though, in a sign of the times, he finished only tenth in the Cy Young voting. Wright's shoulder began to act up in spring training, and he surrendered 14 runs in five starts and 18 2/3 innings before going on the injured list in May.
and it's only a matter of time until they clinch their sixth consecutive NL East title. Soon thereafter, they should clinch the best record in baseball and thus home-field advantage throughout the postseason. Atlanta can let Wright shake off the rust in advance of the postseason without sweating every last win.
As things stand, the Braves are set to go into the postseason with Max Fried, Charlie Morton, and Spencer Strider fronting the rotation, and Bryce Elder is an excellent No. 4 option in the event Wright is not ready to start games in October. Wright made one start and one relief appearance in the 2021 World Series, so he's familiar with a hybrid role if necessary.
Baltimore Orioles in the loss column.. They have baseball's best record at 94-49, three games better than the