Braves’ Kyle Wright struggles vs. Phillies, but feels he’s progressing

Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright (30) throws a pitch to a Philadelphia Phillies batter during the first inning at Truist Park on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in Atlanta. 
Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright (30) throws a pitch to a Philadelphia Phillies batter during the first inning at Truist Park on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in Atlanta.  Miguel Martinez /

When Braves pitcher Kyle Wright walked off the mound after the second inning of Monday’s game against the Phillies, he had a brief moment to celebrate after striking out Kyle Schwarber.

A few innings later, Wright walked on the mound before the end of an inning - being pulled by manager Brian Snitker in the fifth inning of the 7-1 loss at Truist Park. It was his first start at home -- and second overall -- in his journey back to the rotation after missing more than four months with a right shoulder strain.

“The fans are incredible,” Wright said. “There’s a reason we love playing here… I’d just like to have better results next time.”

Wright had five strikeouts against the Phillies - his highest total since April 27, his last appearance at Truist Park - but also allowed five hits, four runs and walked four during four innings of work. He faced the Phillies last week in his first game back from the injured list, allowing six hits and six runs through three innings.

Finding the feel of the game and delivering the right pitches has been hard at times, Wright said, which is understandable for a pitcher who’s thrown just seven innings since his lengthy layoff.

He felt it happened when he chose to throw a curveball to two-time MVP Bryce Harper twice, and Harper hit a home run off the second curveball in the third inning.

“It just comes down to execution,” Wright said. “That was the big thing. A lot of those pitches, I didn’t think through very well.”

The Phillies scored all four runs of their runs against Wright off homers. The first home run from Juan Rojas was partly due to poor pitch selection, Wright said. But he also said he had to tip his cap to Rojas, who took a “pretty well-executed” fastball deep.

There were some flashes of the Wright of 2022, who won 21 games and posted an ERA of 3.19 across 30 starts.

Fooling Harper and Nick Castellanos into big swings-and-misses in the second inning had the crowd roaring. He also made it through more than four innings, which was his longest start since April 22.

Wright said returning after injury has been “infuriating” at times after a strong 2022 campaign. He tries to keep in mind that last season, when he excelled, is different from what he can do now.

“I’ve got to pitch with what I’ve got this year,” Wright said. “I’ve got to find a way to get outs.”

A cortisone injection to his shoulder in January delayed Wright’s start to the season, putting him behind schedule in spring training.

Manager Brian Snitker said Wright’s recent starts are essentially his own version of spring training. It’s difficult to return from injury late in the season, Snitker said, but Wright has progressed.

“I don’t think you can expect much more out of what he’s doing,” Snitker said.

Snitker noted Wright’s improvement, particularly throwing 62 pitches in his last start and increasing that to 78 on Monday. But he said a lot can happen in the next week and a half of games before the club makes its postseason decisions. Wright would be a bullpen option for the National League Division Series, which is scheduled to start Oct. 7.

Wright’s taking things start by start, but is still looking toward his ultimate goal: being a postseason weapon for the Braves.

“I’ve got to be better and try to capitalize,” Wright said.