ATLANTA — Kyle Wright made his second start since returning from the injured list Monday night for the Atlanta Braves. The results again weren’t pretty, but he feels that he is making progress at the end of what has been a tough season all the way around for him.
“I thought it was better. I was more consistent in the strike zone than I was last time,” Wright said after the game. “I just think it comes down to execution. I think that was the big change. A lot of those pitches that were hit out, I just didn’t think I threw them very well. I think sometimes I’m having trouble finding the feel of the game a little bit.”
Wright allowed three home runs and walked four over four plus innings Monday night. Johan Rojas took him deep for a two-run shot in the second inning. Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto tagged him for solo shots in the third and the fourth.
Rojas’ home run came on a four seamer that was well above the zone that he was somehow able to get the barrel to and drove just over the wall in right. Wright was more critical of the pitch selection to Harper in his second at-bat.
“I think that’s where I got in trouble sometimes. To Harper, the curveball. I think I probably shouldn’t have thrown that one. Because I got him on that first AB and he’s such a smart hitter, you usually can’t get him out with the same pitch twice. He stayed on the curveball, put a nice swing on it. I think I just have to be a little better at executing and just see where my stuff is. Remember where I got those guys out.”
Wright enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2022 winning 21 games while putting up 2.9 fWAR. He’s made just seven starts this season thanks to a persistent shoulder issue that cost him most of spring training and four months of his regular season. He admitted after Monday’s game that he is frustrated by having to play catch up.
“Yeah, it’s infuriating. I think at times I’ve got to understand this is not last year,” Wright said. “I can’t make excuses for myself, but it comes down to last year is last year, this year’s this year. Got tobe better. Got to find a way to get outs and give the guys a chance. We have such a good offense, but whenever you put us in a hole like that, no matter how good the offense is, it’s a little bit tougher to kind of scratch and claw back.”
Wright made three rehab starts before he was pressed into action after Spencer Strider needed a couple of extra days due to illness. Facing the Phillies’ lineup in back-to-back starts isn’t the greatest situation either. Despite the results, Brian Snitker said that he saw progress in Wright’s performance from Monday night.
“I think he’s doing great for a kid that had no spring training, no regular season until now. I don’t think he can expect much more out of what he’s doing,” Snitker said.
“I mean it’s hard enough to miss spring training and come in in June or something like that. Rather than miss the whole year and then come in when he has. That’s kind of a tall order for a guy,” Snitker added.
Wright is lined up to make two more starts before the end of the regular season and he believes that he still has time to round into shape to possibly be a factor for the postseason.
“I think a lot,” Wright said when asked about how much progress he can make over his final two starts. “Again, the line, not pretty this one, but I do feel like it was a lot better than the last one. I think it’s just have to continue to be aggressive and execute at the same time. I feel like sometimes we’ve gotten in between a little bit, trying to be too aggressive and sometimes giving up or not executing as well. So I’ve got to pair those a little better. I like where my stuff was at. I had some good swing and miss. Just got to keep the ball in the ballpark.”
As far as the postseason roster goes, Snitker won’t allow himself to get too far ahead of things. He said that they will sit down as a staff the day after the regular season ends to talk about those roster decisions. He added that Wright still has time to be in the mix.
“Yeah, we’ll see where Kyle’s at,” Snitker said. “Last outing he got the four ups, got the 65 pitches or whatever it was. Today he got to 80. We can push him to another just like he’s going through spring training pretty much right now. Then in the end when it’s all said and done, we’ll see where he’s at.”
“We got a week and a half left of games or whatever. A lot could happen between now and then,” Snitker added. “As long as he’s feeling good when he comes in tomorrow and does his side and all that. We’ll see the day after the season is over when we start meeting and deciding what we’re going to do.”
Monday’s loss was the Braves’ fourth straight since clinching a sixth-straight NL East title. Snitker said before Monday’s game that they simply didn’t pitch well enough during the series in Miami to win games. Wright’s struggles put them in an early hole Monday night, but their offense managed just four hits and one run against Zack Wheeler and the Phillies bullpen. Still, the Braves aren’t about to panic.
“You know, these stretches happen. This is not the first time we’ve been through a stretch like this where we’re getting short starts and all that,” Snitker said. “We’ve come out of it before and we will now.”
They want to play better and finish the regular season strong and enter the postseason with some momentum.
“We still want to win as many games as we can,” said Snitker. “That’s why we go out there and play every day. What we’ll do is try and, especially in the bullpen, not to tax anybody. We want to keep everybody regular, so to speak, and try to get through these next games. Win as many of them as we can, and then get ready for the first round that we play.”