The 2021 World Series is something us Braves fans will never forget. I wanted to relive a moment that I found extremely special from that series, which was Kyle Wright's breakout performance.
From 2018 to 2021, Wright had sporadically pitched for the Atlanta Braves to some poor results. In 70 innings, Wright had a 6.56 ERA, 6.56 FIP, & 5.73 xFIP. He was not missing many bats with a 18.2% strikeout rate and was walking 14.8% of batters. It looked like the former top draft pick was close to needing to find a new location to figure it out.
The Braves never gave up on him though. He was in Gwinnett for most of 2021. When the World Series came around, he was not thought to make a huge impact. However, when Charlie Morton went down with an injury in game 1, the Braves were left with Max Fried and Ian Anderson. There was a spot for Wright to step up.
Which he did.
Wright pitched an inning in game 2 and looked much more confident than we had ever seen him. It was a small sample size though and we were not sure what to expect if he pitched again. Due to the Morton injury and the lack of starting pitching depth at the time, the Braves turned to Dylan Lee to open the game for the Braves in game 4. Lee would only get 1 out before Kyle would trot in from the bullpen.
4.2 innings later, Wright put together his best performance as a major leaguer on the game's biggest stage. The pitcher who struggled to throw strikes and looked like he lacked the confidence in himself that he even belonged looked like a new man. Wright looked like the guy the Braves believed he could be when they took him early in the first round all those years ago. He trusted his pitches and the defense behind him.
He proved he belonged for the first time.
He did not get the official win during game 4, but his performance played a huge role in the Braves success. HIs 4.2 innings was worth 0.120 WPA and 4.89% cWPA. Simply put, the Braves do not go up 3-1 in the series without Kyle Wright performing the way he did.
The Braves may not win the World Series without Kyle Wright stepping up on the biggest stage.
Wright would not pitch again during the series, as the Braves would win the championship in 6 games over the Houston Astros. It would lead to a newfound confidence in Wright that everyone hoped would carry over into 2022.
He would make 30 starts, pitch 180.1 innings, with a 3.19 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 3.30 xFIP, 3.48 SIERA, 2.9 fWAR, and 3.5 bWAR. He may not have been the most dominant pitcher in the Braves rotation, but he was arguably the most reliable throughout the entire season. Every 5th day, the Braves knew they were most likely getting a chance to win with Kyle on the mound. While pitching wins do not mean a whole lot to me, this can be seen with Wright winning 21 games. The most in baseball in 2022. The only pitcher to win 20 games.
He believed in himself and Braves country believed in him.
Unfortunately, 2023 was hampered by injuries and it looks like he will miss 2024 with a shoulder issue. Hopefully, he can get back to the 2022 version of himself. Shoulder injuries are worrisome for pitchers though.
Wright cemented himself as a Braves legend with his performance in the 2021 World Series. From a guy that a lot of Braves fans had given up on, to one of the more cherished guys on the roster.