Braves 2021 Player Review: Bryse Wilson

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Bryse Wilson finally came to the end of his run with the Braves this year. He was traded to Pittsburgh with minor league pitcher Ricky DeVito for Richard Rodriguez on Deadline Day. I’ll get to some thoughts on the trade in a minute. But first, a look at his season.

With the Braves this year, he started eight games and went 2-3 with a 5.88 ERA (5.67 FIP), a 1.69 WHIP and 23 strikeouts to 12 walks. None of that is great, obviously. His best game of the year for the Braves would probably be his May 22 start against his future team. He allowed just a single run on five hits over 6.2 innings in a 6-1 win. He only threw up a couple of stinkers, in my opinion, but they were both among his final three starts as a Brave: 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R in a June 20 loss to St. Louis; 2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 BB in the suspended game against San Diego (his part in it came on July 21). He pitched OK in Triple-A for the most part, but between he and Kyle Wright, the Braves essentially had a couple of AAAA starters. Wilson was wildly impressive in Game 4 of the 2020 NLCS (a solo homer and a walk were the only two baserunners he allowed over six innings against that Dodgers lineup in a performance that I still almost can’t believe happened despite the fact that I watched it), but there just wasn’t a whole lot else to tangibly grab onto to signify that Bryse might’ve been about to turn the corner. He and Wright were clear trade fodder headed into the deadline, and my guess is that Pittsburgh was offered their choice of the pair when it came time to get the Rodriguez deal done.

Wilson was better after the move, dropping his WHIP to 1.24 and his ERA to 4.91 over an equal number of starts (8). Still nothing to write home about, but one hopes that a more permanent spot in a major league rotation will do him some good.

Some will surely wonder whether the trade was worth it given that Rodriguez turned into a bust and a non-tender, and the bullpen righted itself down the stretch without him. I was very much in favor of the trade at the time, but even now, I’m not overly broken up about Wilson being gone. At least one of Wright and Wilson was bound to be traded, and given Wright’s end-of-season resurgence in Gwinnett and performance in the World Series, it looks (at least for now) like the Braves either chose correctly or lucked out that Pittsburgh didn’t choose Wright over Wilson. Time will tell, but even if Wilson blossoms in Pittsburgh, it’s certainly no guarantee that he would have here. (As an aside, I do realize that I left DeVito out of my calculations here. I tend to leave the prospect prognostications to other folks, but he seems to be a lottery-ticket type. And due to injury, he’s a lottery-ticket type who has yet to throw a pitch for the Pirates organization in a competitive game.)

Still, it will be interesting to keep an eye on Wilson going forward. I don’t think it’s out of the question that he could develop into a back-of-the-rotation starter for the Pirates, and I personally will be rooting for him in that regard.

37 thoughts on “Braves 2021 Player Review: Bryse Wilson”

  1. He could make an awesome closer in a couple years once he has better control. Would have also been great in Chapel Hill had he honored that commitment.

  2. I wonder sometimes if any of the pitching prospects who flopped might have succeeded if they had just been put into the rotation and left alone to take their lumps for a few months. It’s tough to argue that a team with designs on contention should just give start after start to a marginal pitcher in the hopes that he’d sort himself out, obviously, but if you’re one of those marginal pitchers it can’t be easy not knowing from week to week if you’re going to be starting in the minors, waiting for garbage time in the major league bullpen, or making a spot start in the majors. (Or, worse yet, knowing you’ve more or less mastered the minors but not being given an opportunity to adjust to the major league level because you keep getting shuttled around.) And it’s got to be much more difficult to make needed adjustments, get into a routine, and improve when your usage is so inconstant.

    The Braves’ current pitching philosophy, like most teams’, appears to be viewing anyone who does not strongly grab a major league role as more or less fungible, and cycle them around as needed between Triple-A, the major league bullpen, and the major league rotation for maximum flexibility. That’s probably a good strategy for maximizing immediate major league wins, but I do suspect they’re sacrificing some long-term pitcher development in favor of it. It’s not impossible to produce a long-term contributor under those conditions — Fried managed to develop into a starter despite spending his first couple of seasons doing the yo-yo — but it’s counterintuitive.

    I’ll be curious to see if Wilson shows any improvement next season with an organization that can afford to just give him a rotation spot and let him work through his failures.

  3. I also thought he turned the corner after that start against the Dodgers but that turned out to be a bit of fools gold. Hopefully Wright turns out to be the better choice but he hasn’t been super great either

  4. @2 I agree and I think had we gotten off to a better start last season we may have seen more patience with Wilson or Wright. When we got behind the proverbial eight ball in the standings there was very little margin for error and no time for patience. We needed wins instead of development and Wilson was a casualty of that approach.

  5. We don’t have the luxury of letting these guys take their lumps in the rotation, the way we did when Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair had a couple seasons’ worth of opportunity to stink up the joint. I’ve been vocal for years about wishing these guys could go into the bullpen and learn to taste success an inning at a time, then stretch themselves out. Hell, it worked for Fried! Instead, they get on the Gwinnett shuttle, get a spot start every six weeks or so, and struggle to establish themselves.

    At the end of the day, I had no problem with trading Wilson. He’s promising, but we needed help in the pen, and while Richard Rodriguez made his contributions in the summer and did nothing in the fall, the flag will fly forever. I wish ’em both the best in a different uniform.

  6. The problem when coming out of the rebuild was there was no time to allow development at the MLB level. When Bryse was promoted, he had a good fastball and that was about it. Bringing him up showed the difference between Coppy and AA. Anthopoulos would’ve never brought a pitcher with 1 plus pitch up to start. Coppy made a ton of trades to help the team but his handling of the farm he built was very poor. I do think AA is sometimes too cautious but one cannot argue with the results.

  7. @5 I do think Max was a particularly special case since he was one of our biggest prospects but was recovering from TJS. I think the bullpen work in has case was building arm strength rather than development.

    @2 If you consider there’s a new crop every year, I can understand leaning heavily on those that take their limited chance and run with it even if patience and perseverance would get you even more and better developed depth. Why mess around with Wilson and Touki when you have Strider, Elder, Muller, Shuster, Davidson all knocking on the door? My prime example is Anderson. He got the call and never looked back. Both Muller and Davidson got longer runs than Wilson and Wright have because they had more success.

  8. This year will be a fantastic opportunity to see a couple or more prospects in the majors for a month or two. Someone will have to fill in for Acuna and Soroka until they come back. Whoever comes out of spring training looking strong from among Pache, Waters, Harris, Wright, Muller, Davidson, Elder, Strider could see extended time in a starting role. Any one or two of those guys grabbing the job for good would turn this team into a potential juggernaut once Acuna and Soroka return (and assuming Freddie is re-signed and Morton comes back strong).

    If we keep Duvall and are forced to keep Ozuna (DH), I’d say that signing only one of Rosario or Soler would be required and no additional SP signed (except cheap depth). Whatever doesn’t click from there could be fixed at the trade deadline. I lean toward Rosario as the only lefty in the group.

    [Honestly, the best scenario would be to offload Ozuna and sign both Rosario and Soler for close to the same annual value as Ozuna but I don’t see that happening]

  9. 5 — I agree. They should have given him some run as a reliever. I think he’s better suited for that anyway.

  10. 8 — Wright is out of options. He deserves to be given a rotation job without being jerked around if he has a bad start or 2. Leave him alone and let him get settled in. Probably would do well, as well as any free agent that we could afford.

  11. Kyle Seager announced his retirement. I’m always interested to see players retire when they still have productive years left. Seager is only 34 years old, played in 159 games last year, hit 35 home runs, and had a 100 OPS+. But he spent his entire major league career in Seattle, his contract expired and is now team-less during an owner’s lockout that could drag on, and he’s collected $103M in salaries for his career. I think I’d be done too.

  12. @11 I just saw that…after all of the speculation that both Kyle and Corey would end up with Rangers I thought it was kind of surprising.

  13. RE: Pitching Prospects Not Getting Their Shot

    I have a problem with guys like Tommy Milone getting starts, like everybody else does. And while I’ve been critical of the yo-yo the Braves have employed and have even felt like the pitching side of the rebuild has failed at times, the Braves have indeed tried to give these guys opportunities. These are the amount of starts given to the most recent batch of “failed” pitching prospects, at least as of now:

    Newcomb – 57
    Ynoa – 22
    Touki – 21
    Wilson – 15 (another 8 with Pitt)
    Wright – 14

    Probably harsh to call Ynoa a failure, but at the end of the day, he’s got a 4.75 ERA in 115 innings. At minimum, these 5 guys so far have not cemented themselves in the rotation when guys like Soroka, Fried, and Anderson have. And if any of them had, they probably wouldn’t have signed Smyly and instead spent $11M on a true reliever.

    Going forward, obviously Touki will start in AAA, and Wright and Ynoa can easily earn a spot in the rotation if Soroka continues to be injured. Wilson’s gone, and to Atlanta’s credit, he’s been just as bad for Pittsburgh. And ultimately, the guys that deserve opportunities have gotten them and kept them, and the guys that haven’t haven’t.

  14. 14 — I think Touki is out of options too. My guess is that he is ticketed for the major league bullpen (I don’t think he has good enough control to stick in the rotation) or traded.

    Ynoa is another guy who I think should go to the bullpen because of a lack of arsenal. I think he profiles as a possible future closer.

    I think they should give Wright the 4th rotation spot and have Muller and Davidson compete for the 5th spot. Hopefully Soroka can return at some point.

  15. By the end of his rookie season, Greg Maddux had 32 starts in the big leagues with 186 total innings. His ERA to that point was over five and a half. Of course, he was starting every fifth day –not doing the yoyo with A AA or the pen.
    Also, I imagine the Cubs knew they had something special on their hands and were willing to be patient.

  16. Yeah, I don’t feel at all confident saying that you know a young pitcher after 15-20 bad starts (especially non-continuous ones, with bullpen stints or minor league demotions breaking them up). Maybe you can’t justify giving him continued innings depending on where your team is at, but you can’t really say he had his chance and blew it.

  17. I still think a lot of this comes down to expectations of team success. The Cubs stunk, so they could afford to let Maddux throw out stinkers here and there as a rookie. During our rebuild we could let these guys go out and struggle until they figured it out. When you are expected to compete for a division title, pennant, World Series, etc., teams can’t always afford to have a young starter lay an egg every fifth day, especially if there are injuries and poor play contributing to subpar results in the standings. That being said, I also think the yo yo is a huge problem, especially when guys like Milone and Smyly are getting starts. They were arguably worse than Wright and Wilson and there was no experience to be gained there since they were veterans. The best possible scenario is that we get off to a good start which will allow some growing pains for the young guys.

  18. @19: Thanks for sharing they piece. Just incredible. I shared it with my wife, even though she’s not much of a baseball fan—because it’s about so much more than baseball.

  19. @19, 20 You are so right about it being more than about baseball. I love the way that his wife believing in him helped shape his dedication to getting back into baseball. I also thought it was cool how he focused his mind on helping out his loved ones and how he wanted to get Luke off the hook in game 6 like he did his boys when he was throwing the medicine ball up the hill. Just an incredible story.

  20. @19–thanks for sharing. Wonderful story—made my day. I’ve shared it with several friends and family members.

  21. Serious question for everyone. How was Kyle Wright’s breakout game in the world series this year that much different than Bryse Wilson’s breakout game in the playoffs last year?

    Wilson 2020 vs Dodgers
    6 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 walk, 5 ks

    Wright 2021 vs Astros
    4.2 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 3 walks, 3 ks

  22. It definitely isn’t. But Wilson struggled to build on that success in 2021. Hopefully THAT will be where Wright can show a difference.

  23. Yeah, I’d say both performances bought them more time in the organization, and what they do with it is up to them.

    I’ve seen some World Series/Playoff Blu Rays circulating around Braves Internet. Is anyone really happy with a particular Blu Ray that summarizes the Braves’ World Series run?

  24. Beautiful story, thanks for sharing. Happy New Year from Palm Beach.
    Go Braves – let’s make it two in a row!

  25. Yep, Bama and the Dawgs are the two best teams, and it’s not close. I thought Michigan would at least be competitive. And this was likely their window with OSU likely to be much better next year. Congrats to the Dawgs. Maybe they’ll finally get over the hump.

  26. Reminds me of a story I recently read in the classic old book Dollar Sign on the Muscle, about baseball scouting, told by a legend named Ellis Clary:

    So at the Sugar Bowl game Notre Dame was behind at the half, and this South Bend fanatic called the Pope in Rome and says: ‘Pope, I’m callin’ from New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl, and Notre Dame is behind, and we need help and advice.’ And the Pope says, ‘Who is Notre Dame playin’?’ Guy says, ‘The Georgia Bulldogs.’ The Pope says, ‘How bout them Dawgs!'”

    https://legacy.baseballprospectus.com/article_legacy.php?articleid=22110

  27. A huge key for Alabama is two offensive linemen were hurt against Cincinnati. True freshman that replaced our injured guard did well but who knows how he will do against Georgia if he has to play. Owens didn’t have a great game against Cincinnati but played extremely well against Auburn and Georgia. Without him coming in in the 2nd half we lose to Auburn. His injury looked to be the most serious.

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