The Braves have gone without their top outfielder, Ronald Acuna Jr., since he suffered a left wrist injury Aug. 11. Ten days later, it doesn’t appear a return is imminent, David O’Brien of The Athletic relays. While Acuna has progressed, manager Brian Snitker said he still hasn’t swung a bat yet (via O’Brien). The hope is that Acuna will resume that activity Saturday, but the Braves won’t know how much more time he’ll miss until he begins doing so.
Atlanta has been able to tread water since Acuna last played, having gone 3-3 without him. At 14-11 overall, the Braves lead the National League East by 1 1/2 games over the Marlins, but even the division’s last-place clubs (Philadelphia and Washington) are a manageable three back. That makes it all the more important for Acuna to heal quickly.
As the owner of a .258/.372/.515 line with four home runs in 78 plate appearances, the 22-year-old Acuna was amid yet another high-end season before he hit the shelf. And the Braves have seen a couple more notable changes to their outfield since then, as Nick Markakis went on the COVID-19 injured list Tuesday and the team promoted star prospect Cristian Pache. However, Pache hasn’t gotten a chance to debut yet because of a rainout Wednesday and an off day Thursday. He’ll make his first appearance as the Braves’ starting left fielder Friday.
Elsewhere in its lineup, Atlanta has had to make do without another of its exciting young talents, second baseman Ozzie Albies, who went to the IL on Aug. 5 with a bone contusion in his right wrist. Albies is closer to a comeback than Acuna, per O’Brien, though he’s also without a clear timetable at the moment.
Albies got off to an uncharacteristically poor start (.159/.196/.273 with one homer in 46 PA), but the 23-year-old was among the game’s best second basemen from 2017-19. Atlanta has deployed Johan Camargo and Adeiny Hechavarria at the keystone over the past couple weeks, but neither has performed well. Thanks to the struggles of Albies, Camargo and Hechavarria, Braves second basemen rank 29th in the majors in wRC+ (42) and are tied for last in fWAR (minus-0.6).