Braves ace expecting to miss significant time

Atlanta Braves, Kyle Wright, MLB

Braves right-hander Kyle Wright spoke to members of the media Wednesday, saying that he expects to remain on the injured list longer than his teammate Max Fried, via David O’Brien of The Athletic. He doesn’t provide a specific estimate, but it’s a notable guess given that there was no previous timeline for Wright and the reported plan for Fried is to shut him down for long enough that he’ll need to completely build back up from scratch.

The club hasn’t provided any kind of specifics for what it expects for the two hurlers, but Mark Bowman of interprets the situation by saying that the “expectation has been” that they will miss two months, while O’Brien says that it appears Wright isn’t likely to be back until August.

The details are all murky at the moment, but there seems to be little doubt that the club will be proceeding without two of its best starters for some significant amount of time that will likely be measured in months rather than days or weeks. The 27-year-old Wright got limited big league action from 2018 to 2021 but had a breakout last year, posting a 3.19 ERA in 180 1/3 innings over 30 starts. He struck out 23.6% of batters faced while walking 7.2% and getting grounders at a 55.6% clip.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to build on that here this year, beginning the season on the injured list due to this shoulder issue. He was activated off the IL and made five starts, but it’s now apparent that he wasn’t right in that time. His 93.6 mph fastball velocity was well down from last year’s 95.1 and he posted a 5.79 ERA.

Atlanta came into the season with a strong front four in its rotation, with Fried and Wright joined by Charlie Morton and Spencer Strider. The fifth spot was left open and Bryce Elder has seemingly taken the job over in recent weeks, posting a 1.74 ERA in seven starts so far this year. The club will now need to find replacements for Fried and Wright for the foreseeable future, with their depth having also taken a hit earlier this year when Ian Anderson required Tommy John surgery.

Options on the 40-man roster include lefties Dylan Dodd and Jared Shuster as well as righty Michael Soroka. The two lefties have each made a few starts in the big leagues this year but Dodd has a 6.46 ERA in his three outings whereas Shuster has an 8.31 ERA in his two. Soroka has hardly pitched at all since the 2019 season, mostly due to twice tearing his Achilles tendon. He’s made five Triple-A starts this year, logging 20 2/3 innings with a 5.23 ERA in a once-a-week pitching schedule.

Looking outside the organization doesn’t provide many enticing options. Most teams are reluctant to part with valuable players at this time of the year when it’s too early for most to raise a white flag and start selling. Some players decently designated for assignment include Chase Anderson, Luis Cessa and Chase De Jong.

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