The Braves have activated outfielder Ender Inciarte from the 10-day injured list, the team announced. Right-hander Kyle Wright was also called up from Triple-A to start tonight’s game, while righties Huascar Ynoa and Bryse Wilson were sent down to Triple-A to create roster space.
Inciarte is set to take the field for the first time since May 14, as the outfielder has been sidelined with a lower lumbar strain that ended up costing him over a third of his season. That injury led to Atlanta’s promotion of top prospect Austin Riley, who got off to a scorching start before seeing his production severely drop off over the last month. While Riley still seems likely to get the bulk of everyday at-bats, his struggles will mean Inciarte will get at least some looks, if perhaps only against some right-handed starters. Ronald Acuna Jr. will obviously continue to be a fixture in every Braves lineup, likely moving between center and right field depending on whether Riley or Inciarte is playing.
While never a truly dangerous offensive threat, Inciarte had at least been roughly a league-average offensive producer before falling to a 90 wRC+ in 2018, and then this season’s disastrous 61 wRC+ mark (.218/.300/.323 over 140 plate appearances before hitting the IL). Even if Inciarte is reduced to being only a fourth outfielder, his strong defense and baserunning make him a valuable bench asset.
Since the Braves opted to demote a pitcher rather than a position player for Inciarte, Atlanta will go with a five-man bench that consists of four outfield options — Inciarte, Matt Joyce, and utilitymen Charlie Culberson and Johan Camargo. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently explored the Braves’ rather crowded bench situation, tossing around ideas like demoting Riley to get him straightened out at the plate to designating for assignment (or trading) one of Culberson, Adams, or even Inciarte. The latter would be the costliest and thus probably the least likely idea, as Inciarte is still owed over $16.4MM through the 2021 season.