Behind Kyle Wright’s Rise to the Spotlight
If I were to tell you before this season started that Kyle Wright would have a 2.49 ERA with a whopping 56 Ks through 47 innings pitched in his first 8starts of the 2022 season, very few fans would believe me. I think it’s safe to say most baseball fans, including myself, did not expect Kyle Wright to burst onto the scene and establish himself at the top of the Braves’ pitching rotation alongside Max Fried like he has this season.
This breakout came as a surprise to many, especially when you consider that last season, at around the time Kyle Wright was demoted to Triple-A for what would end up being the remainder of the 2021 regular season, he had been pretty much written off as another failed pitching prospect of the Braves.
As shown in the above image, many fans were low on the Kyle Wright stocks. Kyle did not let this discourage him, however, as he took his time in Gwinnett as an opportunity to better himself and hone his craft.
What exactly did he do in Gwinnett, you might ask? He posted a 3.02 ERA with 137 strikeouts in as many innings pitched. Kyle was able to reinvent himself in Gwinnett, from how much he uses each of his pitches to the point from which he releases the baseball. Last season, Kyle’s curveball accounted for just 14.3% of the pitches he threw. This season, it has accounted for 32.7% of his pitches thrown. This high usage of curveballs has garnered some comparisons to his teammate Charlie Morton, who is famous for his curveball usage. Wright’s curveball becoming his primary pitch also makes the rest of his arsenal more effective.
Wright’s fastball has benefitted greatly from the increased curveball use, as opponents are batting just .194 against it (they hit .286 last season), which ranks second among his pitches behind his changeup. Speaking of his changeup, let’s talk about it. While Wright only uses his changeup 14.6% of the time, it has been his most effective putaway pitch, right at 34.3%. It also has the second highest whiff percentage behind, of course, his curveball.
Pitch usage aside, let’s look at some of the other things that have made Kyle Wright so good. The most impressive and greatest sign that this isn’t just some fluke first few starts comes down to two stats, GB% and HR/FB rate. Wright has maintained a groundball percentage of around 50 percent this season, and a home-run-to-fly-ball rate of around 6 percent.
All of these improvements would be for nothing if it weren’t for Kyle’s confidence in himself to get out of a jam. As opposed to getting in his own head and spiraling out of control whenever he finds himself in trouble like he did in previous years, this new version of Kyle Wright stays calm and collected in the face of adversity.
Hopefully this article shed some light on how Kyle Wright has reinvented himself and completely flipped the script of his career.
That’s it for my first article, hope you enjoyed, and thanks a lot for reading!!