ATLANTA -- It took Kyle Wright just 11 pitches, all strikes, to mow down the Nationals’ first four batters in the first inning. Among the three outs needed, Wright picked up two strikeouts to reach the 100-strikeout mark for the season, joining Braves starters Charlie Morton (108), Spencer Strider (102) and Max Fried (100).
"You just kind of build off of one another," Wright said about the pitching staff getting into a groove. "It's just a lot of fun when everybody's pitching well. We’ve got such a fun team and just such good guys, so everyone's easy to root for. I feel like that is another part of it, too, is just being able to root for your guys, and [to] see them have successes is awesome."
Wright finished Saturday's game with five strikeouts (103 on the season) over seven innings pitched, while giving up three runs on eight hits and two walks and picking up his 10th win of the season in Atlanta's 4-3 victory over the Nationals at Truist Park.
Wright is just the fourth pitcher in the Majors this season to reach 10 wins, behind Tony Gonsolin (11), Justin Verlander (11) and Logan Gilbert (10). He is the first Braves pitcher to notch his 10th win before the All-Star break since Tommy Hanson did so in 2012.
"It's a big deal," manager Brian Snitker said of Wright’s milestone. "It's a good hurdle to get over for a guy, too, when they're pitching for that 10th [win] because 10 is a big number. ... I'm really happy for him."
Entering Saturday, no other team had more than two pitchers with 100 or more strikeouts, while the Braves became the eighth team since 1933 to have four pitchers eclipse the milestone ahead of the All-Star break. The seven teams to achieve the threshold before Atlanta: 2021 Los Angeles Dodgers, 2021 Chicago White Sox, 2018 Cleveland Indians, 2018 Houston Astros, 2018 Boston Red Sox, 2016 Washington Nationals and 2015 Cleveland Indians.
The Braves' pitching staff leads the Majors with 829 strikeouts, while giving up the second-fewest home runs (71) in the Majors and having the third-lowest ERA (3.59) in the National League.
In his most recent performance, Wright faced 29 batters and threw 27 first-pitch strikes (93%) while throwing 84 overall pitches and 66 strikes (79%). Miles Mikolas is the only other pitcher this season who has faced at least 25 batters and had a 90% or higher first-pitch strike rate.
"I looked up at one point and it was 21 and 22 first-pitch strikes," Snitker said. "I said, 'I don't know if I've ever seen that.' It was good, really good. I think the guys behind him were really good. Those guys had a lot of fun, they were involved. Guys are throwing strikes, and they're ready to make plays and they did."
Drafted in 2017 out of Vanderbilt, Wright made 21 appearances in the Majors while recording just two wins in his first four seasons since making his debut in 2018. The 26-year-old bounced around from the Minors, the Majors and the Braves’ Alternate Training Site in 2021, but his work during that span has led to his success in 2022. Wright’s progression from those two regular-season wins in the Majors from 2018 to 2021 to his dominance in 2022 has been crucial for the surging Atlanta squad.
"I remember when I watched Kyle pitch at Vanderbilt when I was in high school, so to be on the same team with him and watch him pitch this well, it's pretty wild," Strider said. "When I first got to be on the same team with him in 2020, after I was drafted, I mean, his stuff was unbelievable. And I [still] feel like I've seen him progress to where he is now, and it's awesome."