Right-hander Bryse Wilson already has a head start in his push to make the Braves' rotation in 2021.
It began last postseason in the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers. Wilson, 23, replaced the injured Cole Hamels and pitched six solid innings as the Braves won Game 4, 10-2, to move within one win away of reaching the World Series.
There Wilson was, handling the likes of Mookie Betts and Corey Seager with ease. Wilson’s only blemish was allowing a solo home run to Edwin Ríos in the third inning.
“The game was huge for me in my career going forward from a mental aspect,” Wilson said. “I think the stuff has been there. Obviously, we made some tweaks. The stuff has been there.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker was impressed with what he saw from the young pitcher.
“He continues to grow, mature and figure things out and learn about himself,” the skipper said. “It’s just a maturation process for Bryse.”
As he was driving to Spring Training this season, Wilson thought about how that NLCS Game 4 victory gave him a lot of confidence. He realized the he belonged in the Major Leagues.
“Last Spring Training, coming into these games, I had a lot of nerves,” Wilson said. “Coming into this one, there is more like a focal point. I was focused a lot rather than just being nervous.”
Wilson credits pitching coach Rick Kranitz for giving him that confidence on the mound. It all starts with the brain.
“He’s helped me from the mental aspect a lot,” Wilson said about Kranitz. “He is keeping my mind at ease. … He is big on confidence, especially us younger pitchers. You can definitely tell he believes in us. That means a lot.”
Wilson finds himself competing with right-handers Kyle Wright and Huascar Ynoa for a spot in the rotation if Mike Soroka is not ready to start the season; Soroka is recovering from a torn right Achilles tendon. Wilson said if the rotation is healthy, he is willing to work out of the bullpen.
“I will do everything … in my power to go out there and throw the ball as well as I can,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day, hopefully, I’m in the rotation. If not, I just keep moving forward and keep working.”
On Thursday, Wilson made his first spring start and pitched two scoreless innings in a 6-1 loss to the Pirates. He also struck out two batters -- Gregory Polanco and Todd Frazier -- in the second inning.
“Overall, I felt good. I felt I executed of pitches. I was able to mix in my offspeed pitches,” Wilson said.