The Braves made a couple of surprising roster moves for the National League Division Series, adding hard-throwing reliever Daysbel Hernandez and top prospect AJ Smith-Shawver ahead of Game 1 on Saturday against the Phillies.
The Braves also revealed that Kyle Wright, a 21-game winner a year ago who was plagued by shoulder issues most of this season, was not available after sustaining a setback in his recovery.
Wright underwent an MRI on Friday and is likely to undergo surgery that would keep him out all of next season.
“Kyle is not right,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s going to have to have a procedure done in order to get him right.”
Wright’s status cast a pall over the Braves’ sixth straight playoff appearance after a 104-win regular season.
“I rehabbed a lot with Kyle throughout this year,” said Atlanta pitcher Max Fried, who is set to start Game 2 after his own injury woes this season. “We spent a lot of time together. He worked extremely hard to try to come back and battle, and I know he wanted to be a part of this run and into this playoffs and that’s what he set his goals out to be.”
When Wright was told that he wasn’t going to be on the NLDS roster, he pushed to get a more long-term solution to his shoulder problems.
“He wants to get everything taken care of,” Snitker said, “and I hate it for the person, just because the kid wants to be out there, coming off a year like he did last year.”
The Braves also passed on 40-year-old reliever Jesse Chavez, who missed a good chunk of the season with a leg injury but posted a 1.56 ERA in 36 appearances.
“Jesse has missed three months, and he wasn’t throwing like he’s capable of throwing pretty much,” Snitker said.
Philadelphia made only one change from the 26-man roster it used for a two-game sweep of the Miami Marlins in the wild-card round. Right-hander Michael Lorenzen (9-9, 4.18 ERA) replaced infielder Weston Wilson to give the Phillies a 13th pitcher.
The addition of Hernández was the biggest shocker for the Braves. The 27-year-old Cuban reliever has made only four big league appearances, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks in 3⅔ innings.
But he was highly effective on a rapid rise through the minor leagues this season, posting a cumulative 2.19 ERA in 23 appearances with High-A Rome, Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. Most notably, he had 36 strikeouts in 24⅔ innings.
Hernández impressed the Braves with his performances in the team’s intrasquad games during a first-round bye.
“Pretty much pitched his way on,” Snitker said. “We threw him back to back, and it was as good as it was when we called him up early on and really liked him. But it was just pretty much the stuff that he showed.”
Smith-Shawver is another fast climber, going from Class A to the big leagues in just his third professional season. The 20-year-old right-hander appeared in six games with five starts for the Braves, going 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA.
The Braves went with 12 pitchers and added infielder Vaughn Grissom as an extra position player.
Grissom, 22, came into spring training as the front-runner to start at shortstop but wound up spending most of the season in Triple-A, where he batted .330 with eight home runs and 61 RBIs.
Rookie righty Bryce Jarvis was replaced by lefty Kyle Nelson, utility player Jace Peterson was added, and outfielder Jake McCarthy remained off the roster after hurting an oblique in warmups for Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.
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