The Braves lost their season opener to the Phillies 10-4 on Thursday. Here’s what to know as they work out Friday before resuming play this weekend.
1. Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright will start the ensuing two games in Philadelphia. It marks the first time since 1905 that the Braves had two or more rookies starting in the first three games.
Right-hander Dick Harley started the second game in 1905, while lefty Irv Young started the third. Wilson will become the first Atlanta-era pitcher to start one of the first two games before his 22nd birthday.
2. The Braves’ bullpen struggles aren’t going away. A.J. Minter’s return, which could come in the next week, will help, but the unit is a bit discombobulated now. The Phillies tagged Shane Carle and Luke Jackson for seven runs Thursday.
At least for now, it’ll be up to the in-house options. The Braves need a couple of pleasant surprises to emerge from their group of young pitchess. It can be an unknown like Wes Parsons or a veteran like Josh Tomlin, but someone will have to outperform expectations. Even when Minter and O’Day are installed, the group is far from certain.
3. Matt Joyce hit a seventh-inning pinch-hit homer Thursday, bringing the Braves to within three runs. It was his seventh career pinch-hit homer. If the Braves can get more out of him, even temporarily (think Ryan Flahety’s uber-productive April last season), it’d be a coup for a team still not sold on its fourth outfielder situation.
4. Shortstop Dansby Swanson went 1-for-3 with a double and walk in the opener. His at-bats were once again encouraging as he looks to define himself at the plate. Swanson battled wrist pain most of last season, and 2019 marks an important campaign for determining his offensive ceiling. His defense and speed are considered well above major-league average.
5. Ronald Acuna had a productive Thursday. He went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a pair of walks. He stole a base against Aaron Nola that translated to the team’s first run. Acuna scored on Nick Markakis’ single to right.
The 21-year-old is expected to put up monster numbers in his new clean-up role. He didn’t do anything electric in his debut, but he illustrated his impact on a game even during less-flashy nights.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.