Atlanta Braves 2023 season review: Kirby Yates

Kirby Yates has been battling injuries since 2020. Let’s take a look back at how he fought through that battle a season ago.
Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Two
Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Two / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages
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Kirby Yates came to the Atlanta Braves in 2022 after recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2020. In 2019, he led all of Major League Baseball in saves (41) and finished 9th in Cy Young Award voting as a closer. Since that season, Yates was unable to return to form. However, 2023 saw a slight improvement in his performance. 

The 36-year-old veteran appeared in 61 games for the Braves in 2023. This was the first season since his 2019 all-star campaign that Yates tossed 60 innings or above. In 60.2 innings, Yates posted a 7-2 record with a  respectable 3.28 ERA. He also proved he can still get swings and misses by fanning 80 batters for the year. 

Like most Atlanta Braves arms that struggled in 2023, starter or reliever, Yates had a difficult time finding the strike zone. He issued an alarming amount of walks (37), his career high in a season. It is still uncertain whether his previous injuries played a factor in his lack of control or if it was simply the time away from being on a big league mound. No matter how many bullpens a pitcher throws, nothing compares to a live game that has meaning. 

Yates had a few bad outings, which gave him a bad reputation among Braves fans but looking at the season numbers as a whole, he was better than what most people realized. Kirby Yates has displayed he can be successful and stay in the big leagues for 9 seasons now. His biggest question is the future. 

Yates will be 37 entering the 2024 season and given his injury history, he may not have much left in the tank. He will have the chance to pitch again in 2024 but it won't be with the Atlanta Braves. Yates signed with the Texas Rangers in December on a one-year contract worth $4.5 million.

A change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered for the former shut-down closer.

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