With Opening Day now just two days away, the Braves return home to SunTrust Park tomorrow afternoon with a pair of exhibition games against the Reds as their final Spring tuneups. Yesterday, the team officially unveiled its new Grapefruit League home in North Port, a facility the team will call home every spring starting in 2020. But, perhaps the biggest news of the day came when the club announced the starting rotation for the first trip through. We already knew we would see Julio Teheran on the hill for his sixth straight opener on Thursday, but what we didn’t know is, who would follow.
As we’ve noted quite a bit during camp, all the young arms competing for jobs impressed. But the two biggest standouts now find themselves in the Atlanta rotation to start the year as both Bryse Wilson and Kyle Wright will start games two and three on Saturday and Sunday in Philly. Wilson and Wright both strike throwers, both implementing and trusting a third pitch here in 2019. For Wilson, utilizing the slider has proven to be an effective weapon, as it was a pitch he relied heavily on during spring training. For Wright, the ability to use the changeup more has allowed him to really have that extra weapon in his arsenal. But the thing that I like more than their stuff is their mindset. Both young men told me during our time in Orlando that they’d rather get beat on a homer than walks. How refreshing is that?! Both were tasked with facing extremely talented lineups, and each had very similar results against a Yankees lineup that featured the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez and DJ Lamahieu.
As far as the remainder of the rotation, Kevin Gausman took another step in the right direction yesterday, as his pitch count approached 80. He will start the season on the Injured List but join the rotation in the first homestand. Mike Foltynewicz is also progressing, but I’d be shocked if we see him much earlier than May 1. So for now, the Braves will bank on the young guns to hold the fort down, and I personally think they’re more than up for the challenge ahead.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.