The Braves have a decision looming regarding their immediate rotation. That situation seems to be sorting itself out.
Kyle Wright struggled, getting hit for six earned runs, in the Braves’ 6-2 loss to the Mets on Friday night in SunTrust Park. After winning three consecutive series, the Braves have dropped the first two games (of four) against New York to begin their homestand.
Wright survived just 3-2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, walking four and striking out three. He exited in a 6-1 hole; one the Braves couldn’t overcome.
“I was in more disadvantaged counts than anything,” Wright said. “Also, give credit to them. They took some good pitches and hit some good pitches. They had a good approach going in. For myself, I just have to get ahead in the count more.”
The zeal of Wright’s tremendous spring has mostly faded through three starts. The Vanderbilt product, whom many consider the pitching-rich franchise’s premier arm, wasn’t bad in his first two outings, but the bottom fell through in his latest.
After permitting two runs in six innings against Miami, Wright couldn’t replicate his performance. Spotted a one-run lead, Wright gave it up on a two-run homer by Brandon Nimmo, when the Mets outfielder planted a 3-1 low fastball into the stands.
“I just have to be better honestly,” Wright said. “I just have to attack earlier. Don’t put myself behind in the count.”
Wright pitched around two walks to complete a scoreless third. He couldn’t minimize his miscues in the following frame: The Mets scored four times in the fourth, each run charged to Wright. As has been the case with Braves pitchers this season, the dam-breaking inning was ignited by bases on balls.
Keon Broxton walked. Nimmo singled. Wright got opposing pitcher Zack Wheeler on a shallow pop, but Jeff McNeil chased both base runners home on a double. Robinson Cano and Michael Conforto contributed another pair of runs on back-to-back two-out doubles. Wright intentionally walked Wilson Ramos and his night was done.
“Things were just a little flat tonight,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I don’t think he really got anything going. Location wasn’t great, slider wasn’t as good as it had been. It was just one of them nights. … The stuff is too good not to be successful. You’re going to have games like that. And he’ll learn from it. Going forward, he’ll be better for it.”
The Braves will adjust their rotation upon Mike Foltynewicz’s return, which will likely come early in the upcoming Ohio road trip. With Max Fried shining, Wright might be bumped from the starting five, joining the bullpen or, more likely, starting in Triple-A Gwinnett.
An off-day Monday allows the Braves to skip Wright’s next turn, if so desired. They could plug in Foltynewicz to join Julio Teheran, Sean Newcomb, Kevin Gausman and Fried. The team has also indicated it’ll use last year’s formula of working in an occasional sixth starter, which is where Wright and others can soon factor in.
“That’s something we’ll talk about,” Snitker said. “I think the world of that kid. We’re going to need him here. But we’ll talk about that this evening and go from there.”
That isn’t to suggest Wright won’t be part of the team’s plans. Their abundance of arms simply requires unique management. Mike Soroka, Touki Toussaint, Bryse Wilson, Wright and Fried will have opportunities. The Braves have been clear about that.
“I think he’s been great,” shortstop Dansby Swanson said of his fellow Vanderbilt product. “Like with any pitcher, you get in trouble when you fall into hitters’ counts. … The stuff’s there. You can tell just by some of the swings guys take off him. I believe in his ability. I believe in everything he has to offer. So it’s just one of those things where he’ll continue to grow and get better, and we look forward to being part of it.”
As for today, the best the Braves can salvage is a split with their northern-most NL East opponents. The Braves dropped to 2-6 against a division they dominated a year ago (49-27). They’ve lost 23 of their last 35 against the Mets at home.
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