Bryse Wilson knows others are coming for his innings

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Caption
Braves starter Bryse Wilson comments on his performance against Arizona in which he allowed three earned runs off four hits.

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Whether he feels it or not, there’s extra pressure on Bryse Wilson in each start.

That’s immediate and long-term pressure. Every start, Wilson is pitching for his next. Every string of starts, or appearances, he’s putting together a larger body of work for evaluation. His present with the Braves isn’t cemented, much less his future.

Wilson, 23, came into the season with momentum. He outpitched Clayton Kershaw on the grand postseason stage in his final outing. He showed the Braves what he can do at his best. He gave them reason to believe there’s more to be unearthed.

After a good spring, Wilson is two starts into his 2021 season. Both appearances have left one wanting more. He’s allowed six runs (five earned) on 11 hits across nine innings. He’s struck out five and walked three.

Bryse Wilson stats

In his latest start Sunday, Wilson committed two throwing errors on pick-off attempts in a loss to Arizona. He also gave up two homers. Manager Brian Snitker called his overall performance “OK,” which fairly describes Wilson’s season thus far.

“He gave up a couple homers, in between that, it was all right,” Snitker said. “It was just OK.”

“I just have to move on to the next one,” Wilson said after the game. “Take the good out of it. I threw two bad pitches over the plate. They made me pay for it. It got away from me in the second inning (when Arizona scored twice and Wilson had two errors), but overall I thought I threw pretty well.”

The Braves need starters right now, giving Wilson this opening. But he hasn’t taken the bull by the horns like Huascar Ynoa, who’s overshadowed Wilson and Kyle Wright with his own breakthrough. He’s instead shown what he always has, the usual good and bad from a young pitcher.

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It’s fair to wonder, then, what’s next for Wilson when the Braves are healthier. Max Fried is nearing his return, which would give the Braves their four primary starters back in Fried, Ian Anderson, Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly. Ynoa has earned the fifth starter spot for now. Mike Soroka’s return looms over the situation, but he might not be back until June, leaving the Braves with plenty more starts to cover.

Caption
Braves starting pitcher Bryse Wilson tosses the ball during the first inning Sunday, April 18, 2021, against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Credit: Nam Y. Huh

Braves starting pitcher Bryse Wilson tosses the ball during the first inning Sunday, April 18, 2021,  against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)
Caption
Braves starting pitcher Bryse Wilson tosses the ball during the first inning Sunday, April 18, 2021, against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Credit: Nam Y. Huh

Credit: Nam Y. Huh

Wilson factors into the equation, but he hasn’t made an emphatic case for more starts like Ynoa. As Snitker always mentions, all of the Braves’ pitching depth will be needed throughout the season. But Wilson doesn’t want to be “depth” forever. His best opportunities might come as a reliever, a role he’s served in the past. Or he might wind up back in Triple-A, starting every fifth day when the minor-league season begins next month.

Wherever he is, whatever he’s doing, Wilson knows he can’t waste time. The Braves have fostered an uber competitive environment with their young pitchers. Wilson knows others are coming for his innings.

“If I sit and sulk about not being in the big leagues, (not) being in the rotation, then other people are working and other people will end up passing me,” Wilson said. “For me, it’s just about improving what I do well and improving on the things I don’t do well, becoming a better pitcher overall.”

This season is the chance to prove he deserves a full-time rotation spot in 2022. Nobody knows how many appearances he’ll have, but two are already in the books. Wilson can create clarity for his own future by maximizing however many chances he has remaining.

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