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Braves rookie Wright flounders in loss to Mets

@mlbbowman
April 13, 2019

ATLANTA -- Kyle Wright has shown he has the necessary stuff to potentially establish himself as an ace at the Major League level. But after being humbled in Friday night's 6-2 loss to the Mets at SunTrust Park, the Braves right-hander walked away from his third career start realizing he

ATLANTA -- Kyle Wright has shown he has the necessary stuff to potentially establish himself as an ace at the Major League level. But after being humbled in Friday night's 6-2 loss to the Mets at SunTrust Park, the Braves right-hander walked away from his third career start realizing he needs to be much more consistent to be successful at the Major League level.

“I definitely had some moments where I felt really good about my stuff,” Wright said. “But it’s just a matter of being consistent. That’s what separates the best guys. There’s times I’ve felt really confident with my stuff, but you’ve got to do it each inning.”

As the Braves suffered their second straight loss and fell to 2-6 against National League East opponents, Wright allowed eight hits and six earned runs over just 3 2/3 innings. Left-handed hitters went 8-for-15 with three doubles against the 23-year-old hurler, who was still pitching at Vanderbilt just two years ago.

Wright’s four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph and touched 97.6 mph Friday. But he has produced a swing-and-miss with just five of his 139 total fastballs this year. His slider has also shown potential, but has whiffed batters with just eight of the 39 thrown in his past two starts.

“Things were just flat tonight,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I don’t think he ever got anything going. His location wasn’t great and his slider wasn’t as good as it has been. They whacked his fastball a little bit. I think it was just one of those nights.”

With Mike Foltynewicz set to make one more rehab start then possibly be activated from the injured list to start during next weekend’s series in Cleveland, the Braves have the option to create a rotation spot by sending Wright to Triple-A Gwinnett. Snitker wasn’t ready to commit to a plan, but this latest outing proved the highly-regarded young pitcher could benefit from additional seasoning.

“That’s something we’ll talk about,” Snitker said. “I think the world of that kid. We’re going to need him here.”

With Foltynewicz and Kevin Gausman (who also began the year on the injured list) in the rotation, the Braves can begin utilizing their initial plan to have Wright, Touki Toussaint, Max Fried and other prospects share the fifth spot on a rotating basis while being shuttled between the Atlanta and Gwinnett rosters.

Wright recorded a first-pitch strike against 13 of the 22 Mets he faced, but he struggled to stay ahead in the count. He issued consecutive two-out walks after getting ahead with a 0-2 count against both Michael Conforto and Wilson Ramos during a scoreless third. Four of his eight hits surrendered -- including consecutive doubles from Robinson Cano and Conforto in the four-run fourth -- were recorded when Wright was behind in the count.

Brandon Nimmo’s two-run homer in the second inning was hit against a 3-1 fastball thrown with two outs and Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler on deck. Wright acknowledged he made a mistake while attempting to record an out and have Wheeler lead off the third inning.

“It’s just not getting ahead,” Wright said. “It’s really simple. I’ll throw a strike and then I come back with a ball. It’s got to be more 0-2 [counts] and more quality. It’s like I’m trying to expand the zone too much. You get a lot of feedback from catchers and hitters themselves. In order to get more chases, all your pitches have to start as strikes.”

Josh Donaldson helped create a 1-0 first-inning lead when he began his two-hit night by hitting Wheeler’s 100.6 mph fastball to right-center for a single. Donaldson’s bat has started to show some life as he’s doubled in four of the past five games and Ronald Acuña Jr. has gone 9-for-14 with a double, a triple and three homers over his past four games. Acuna walked once and hit an RBI double on Friday.

The Braves offense has been quieted during the first two games of this series but despite the recent Mets’ damage, Atlanta’s rotation has started to take shape over the past two weeks. Wright has the capability to be a difference maker at some point this season, but it may be in his best interest to take advantage of a chance to refine his stuff away from the Majors.

“His ceiling is, I don’t know if there even is one,” Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “He’s got that much ability.”

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.