Ronald Acuña Jr. was scratched from today’s lineup because of left wrist irritation, the team announced via Twitter. Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation for the Braves, but there’s no apparent reason to read anything more into this than what’s on the surface. With their playoff position locked, the Braves don’t gain much from playing Acuña today, especially if he’s anything less than 100%. There’s no reason to expect Acuña won’t be back in the lineup for their 3-game wild card playoff.
Acuna wanted to be in the lineup today, so the injury clearly isn’t all that limiting, but the Braves wanted to be cautious with their superstar, per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter). It is the same wrist that caused him some trouble in August. That said, the 22-year-old still managed to play in 46 games this season and post 2.0 rWAR with a triple slash of .250/.406/.581.
While Acuña’s wrist soreness will surely make some Braves fans a little nervous, there’s cause for optimism coming out of Atlanta as well. Ace Max Fried threw a bullpen session today, and as expected, he’d been given the green light for the playoffs, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). Perhaps even more important than Acuña, Atlanta really needs a healthy Fried in order to make a deep run this postseason. He was their best starter by a wide margin this season, emerging from a muddled and hectic rotation to establish himself as an ace and Cy Young candidate.
In 11 starts this season, Fried went 7-0 with a sterling 2.25 ERA/3.10 FIP across 56 innings. His contributions amount to 2.9 rWAR, the fourth-highest mark among pitchers in the majors. The only concern for Fried is that he’s thrown just 6 innings across two starts since going on the injured list early in September. The Braves have held the division lead or some time now, so they’ve been able to be patient with their ace. Still, he’ll be watched closely as he prepares to start the opener of the postseason. As the #2 seed, the Braves will be playing in Atlanta, though their opponent has yet to be decided. Beyond Fried, none of the Braves potential starters (Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson) have more than a year of service time under their belts.