Braves outfielder/third baseman Austin Riley and reliever Darren O’Day started rehab assignments Friday, the team announced. Riley’s playing at the Single-A level, while O’Day is beginning at the rookie level.
The rookie Riley has been on the injured list since Aug. 8 with a sprained knee. The 22-year-old had been in the midst of a cold stretch before hitting the shelf, but he has still given the Braves decent overall production this season. Riley has slashed .242/.294/.504 with 17 home runs and a .263 ISO in 255 plate appearances on the offensive side, and has chipped in 4 Defensive Runs Saved and a 3.8 Ultimate Zone Rating as a left fielder. His absence, not to mention those of fellow injured outfielders Nick Markakis and Ender Inciarte, has weakened the Braves’ depth in the grass. Still, the team has won five in a row and continues to hold a comfortable lead of 5 1/2 games in the National League East.
The Braves’ success this year has come in spite of a maligned bullpen – one that hasn’t gotten a single out from O’Day. The longtime Oriole still hasn’t thrown a pitch for the Braves since they acquired him from the O’s (in a deal centering on the now-gone Kevin Gausman) at the July 2018 trade deadline. O’Day, who was included in the swap for financial purposes, was dealing with a hamstring injury at the time, but a forearm strain has kept him off a major league mound this season.
The 36-year-old O’Day did quality work for Baltimore over 20 innings in 2018, continuing a rather effective career that began in 2008 with the Angels. To this point, O’Day has amassed 555 frames of 2.56 ERA/3.47 FIP ball with 9.28 K/9 and 2.46 BB/9. He’s on a $9MM salary this year, the last season of his contract.